INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- It took a year to get from the start of the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix to the championship round, and just 35 seconds to finish it.
The latter was how long it took for Ryan Bader to become the first champ-champ in Bellator MMA’s 10-year history on Saturday night. Facing off against legendary Fedor Emelianenko, Bader’s first blow of the fight was a gigantic left hand on the jaw, which dropped his Russian foe and led to the finish.
With the victory in the main event of Bellator 214 at the Forum, the Bellator light heavyweight champion won the vacant heavyweight belt in addition to claiming the tournament championship.
“To be a two-division champion, it’s surreal man,” Bader said. “What a night.”
Bader (27-5), who knocked out “King Mo” Lawal in quarterfinals and earned a decision over Matt Mitrione in the finals to earn his spot in the finals, landed several hammerfists to the downed Emelianenko before referee Mike Beltran waved off the bout.
He’s now 5-0 since leaving the UFC for Bellator, and has won 12 of his 13 fights.
For Emelianenko (38-6, 1 NC), the loss was a downer of an ending after becoming the sentimental favorite in going on a run simply to get to the finals at age 42. Emelianenko earned first-round finishes of Frank Mir and Chael Sonnen to get to the finals.
“The Last Emperor,” who hinted at a possible retirement during fight week, is now 5-2 since coming out of retirement three years ago.