Bellator MMA’s first champ-champ will be looking to make his first Heavyweight title defense this Fall against a longtime veteran of the sport.
Announced via a press release, Ryan Bader will defend his Bellator MMA Heavyweight Title against Cheick Kongo at Bellator226 on September 6 in San Jose, California.
A winner of his last seven fights at both Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight, Bellator’s two-division champion Ryan Bader (27-5, 5-0 in Bellator) will make his first Heavyweight title defense since defeating “King Mo” Lawal, Matt Mitrione and Fedor Emelianenko in last year’s Heavyweight World Grand Prix. The former two-time NCAA Division I All-American wrestler from Arizona State University began his professional career by winning season eight of The Ultimate Fighter. “Darth” Bader continued his path of dominance by collecting victories over some of the 205-pound division’s top talent, including wins over former world champions Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Rashad Evans, Phil Davis (x2) and Rafael “Feijão” Cavalcante, as well as Ovince Saint Preux and Vinny Magalhães, before signing with Bellator in 2017.
Since joining Bellator in 2013, French fighter Cheick Kongo (30-10-2, 12-2 in Bellator) has strung together an impressive run that has seen him emerge victorious in 12 of his last 14 contests, including eight consecutive victories. With 42 career MMA fights under his belt, the Frenchman most recently defeated former Bellator champion Vitaly Minakov in a rematch from 2014. The unanimous decision loss was the first of Minakov’s career and cemented Kongo as the true number one contender for Bader’s title. Training alongside “Rampage” Jackson, Juan Archuleta and others at Huntington Beach Ultimate Training Center, Kongo is now looking to add an MMA world title next to his multiple kickboxing world championships.
Bellator 226 takes place at the SAP Center in San Jose, California and will stream live on DAZN. The Heavyweight title fight will serve as the nights main event.