- Kongo vs Bader goes Saturday, September 7th at 10 PM ET
- Can Bader make the first successful defense of his heavyweight title?
- Can Kongo extend his win streak further and become Bellator champion?
Kongo vs Bader is the main event of Bellator 226 this weekend. The heavyweight title is on the line as Ryan Bader defends against Cheick Kongo at the SAP Center. DAZN will broadcast the event and San Jose, California plays host to a card that also features the kick-off of Bellator’s stacked featherweight grand prix.
Kongo vs Bader pits a freshly minted champion in Bader, who is looking to assert his dominance against a man in Kongo who has worked for almost two decades to bear the moniker of being a promotion’s world champion. Check out the fight odds and bout breakdown below.
Kongo vs Bader Odds
|Fighter||Odds at MyBookie|
*All odds taken 09/05/19
Bader’s last fight saw him defeat the legendary Fedor to win not only the Bellator heavyweight title but also the promotion’s grand prix. Bader stormed through the tournament field with ease and fans have been anticipating his first championship defense. That Fedor fight was in January and finally, Bader has a dance partner for September. His opponent Kongo is on the heels of beating Vitaly Minakov (a former Bellator champ who was previously undefeated) and is close to a double-digit winning streak.
Darth Bader Uses the Force
This title bid for Kongo has been a long time coming. Kongo has been with Bellator since late-2013 and has only lost twice under the promotion’s banner but they came at key times for him. Kongo was also omitted from the heavyweight grand prix which seemed to irritate him tremendously and confused many pundits. With the benefit of hindsight, Bellator seemed to be positioning Kongo as the first challenger for whoever won the grand prix or heavyweight titles.
Bader’s Bellator legacy has existed entirely in the championship sphere. His first two fights involved him winning and defending the light-heavyweight title before entering the heavyweight grand prix thereafter. After not even two and a half years in the promotion, Bader is poised to not only capture titles in two different divisions but to be a fighter that concurrently defends both belts.
— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) September 1, 2019
The wrestling exchanges in Kongo vs Bader will be intriguing. In a general sense, Kongo favors a kickboxing approach. There are certain fights where Kongo works a wrestling heavy game to secure top control and dominate someone in a way that’s also admittedly not the most crowd-pleasing. Bader is almost the inverse of this idea. Bader is a top-notch wrestler and has a better grappling resume than Kongo.
That being said, Bader’s stand up game has been coming along well, with five striking based finishes in his last seven wins. Considering the reach disadvantage and his wrestling acumen, I would predict that Bader secures takedowns and works ground and pound throughout the fight. But with Bader’s ever-developing stand-up techniques and one-punch KO power, don’t be surprised if he spends notable periods of time at kickboxing range.
Kongo vs Bader Tale of the Tape
Mirko Cro Cop
|Significant Wins||Fedor Emelianenko
|King of the Ring world kickboxing titles
Bellator Season 9 heavyweight tournament winner
|Significant titles/ distinctions||Bellator heavyweight and light-heavyweight champion
Bellator heavyweight grand prix winner
Kongo has a fun underdog narrative and has been preparing hard with Olympic level wrestlers but I just don’t think it will be enough. I see Bader retaining his title at Bellator 226.
Pick: Bader (-335)
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