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Ryan Bader wishes he could fight Daniel Cormier: 'I think now I beat him'

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UNCASVILLE, Conn. – Ryan Bader doesn’t think a fight against Daniel Cormier will ever materialize, but if it did he’s confident he’d have a great shot at winning it.

Following his dominant win over Matt Mitrione in the Bellator heavyweight grand prix semifinals on Friday at Bellator 207, Bader (26-5 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) is one victory away from becoming a dual champion for the organization. He already holds the light heavyweight title, and if he wins the tournament he’ll add a second piece of hardware to his mantel.

Cormier (21-1 MMA, 10-1 UFC), of course, is a dual champ in the 205 pound and heavyweight classes for the UFC, and is currently ranked among the top pound-for-pound fighters in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie rankings. Bader believes he should be given the same respect but will struggle to prove his superiority in a definitive manner without sharing the cage with Cormier.

“I do think about that,” Bader told reporters, including MMAjunkie, post-fight at Bellator 207. “We all are, ‘Woulda, coulda, shoulda.’ A big reason for me to come over is I believe I was the best in the world and never got the opportunity to show it (in the UFC). Over here I did. It’s always there. I’m a competitor, I want to be the best in the world, not, ‘Oh yeah, but there’s another organization.’ Taking nothing away from him. He’s a dominant champion. He’s one of the best to ever do it. Of course I want it. But will that ever happen? No.”

Cormier, for his part, gave Bader a shoutout after Bellator 207 (via Twitter).

Bader, 35, defeated Mitrione by lopsided unanimous decision in the Bellator 207 main event at Mohegan Sun Arena. Despite having a 20-fight tenure in the UFC that lasted nearly eight years, Bader never got the opportunity to fight for a title with the organization.

At one point it seemed like he was on a collision course with Cormier after a post-fight press conference confrontation at UFC 187 in May 2015, but the promotion opted to go in a different direction and award a title shot to Alexander Gustafsson, who was coming off a knockout loss to Anthony Johnson.

Bader doesn’t believe he ever got the opportunity to fully prove himself in the UFC, but now that he’s with Bellator, he’s been able to pick up traction in a different way. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t still want the fight, though.

With Cormier, 40, planning to retire in March of next year and Bader contractually tied to Bellator for the foreseeable future, a matchup between two fighters who would hold a potential four titles combined is enticing, but also pure fantasy.

Bader said he’s aware of that, but if it somehow did come to fruition, he thinks his skill set has grown to the point where he would be highly successful.

“I think I match up well with him,” Bader said. “Especially now. If I would have matched up with him five years ago, I don’t think I would do all that well. I think now I beat him. Its just one of those things where it’s too bad it’ll never happen.”

For complete coverage of Bellator 207, check out the MMA Events section of the site.



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