Bellator 256: Ryan Bader dominates Lyoto Machida in light heavyweight quarter-final

By Simon HeadMMA writer

Heavyweight champion Ryan Bader beat Lyoto Machida at Bellator 256 to take a big step towards reclaiming the light heavyweight title.

The American won the quarter-final by unanimous decision in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Bader lost the Bellator light heavyweight title to Russia's Vadim Nemkov at Bellator 244 last August.

But he was able to exact revenge on Brazil's Machida, who knocked him out at UFC in August 2012.

Bader won the promotion's heavyweight grand prix in January 2019 to become the first simultaneous two-division champion in Bellator history.

However, Machida, a former UFC light heavyweight champion, can be a tricky opponent.

After an opening round and a half of trying to find his range against Machida's karate-based style, Bader used his strength and wrestling advantage to dominate proceedings.

He repeatedly dragged the action to the mat and used his ground and pound to earn a unanimous decision victory, with the three cageside judges scoring the bout 49-46, 49-45, 49-45 in the American's favour.

The 2021 rematch formed the first quarter-final bout in Bellator's light heavyweight grand prix, with Bader set to move on to face the winner of the upcoming quarter-final between former UFC contender Corey Anderson and Turkmenistan's Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov.

That fight takes place at Bellator 257 on 16 April.

When asked who he would prefer to face next, Bader said he would love to face former training partner Anderson in the final four of the tournament.

"I don't know much about 'Yags', but I know Corey really well," he explained after the main event at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

"I know he's tough, but I'm in this tournament. I ran through another tournament before and had fun. So that's why I came down here.

"It doesn't matter who's in my way, I want that belt back. This was the first step, right here."

Reigning champion Nemkov will take on former champion Davis on 16 April.

An eagerly anticipated clash between former UFC fan-favourites Anthony Johnson and Yoel Romero forms the final quarter-final bout at Bellator 258 on 7 May.

Former UFC title challengers claim important wins

Former two-division UFC title challenger Liz Carmouche beat Vanessa Porto by unanimous decision to cement her position as one of the top contenders for the promotion's women's flyweight title.

Further down the card, former UFC bantamweight title challenger Cat Zingano claimed a first-round submission victory on her Bellator debut.

Zingano, 38, is the last woman to defeat two-division UFC women's champion Amanda Nunes.

She finished fellow American Olivia Parker via first-round armbar in their featherweight match-up.