Following Stipe Miocic’s victory over Daniel Cormier last weekend, Ryan Bader believes the UFC champ has entered the conversation about MMA’s greatest heavyweights of all time.
Miocic has put his 2018 loss to ‘DC’ in the rear-view mirror, with back-to-back wins over the multiple-division champion and Bader feels Miocic has now cemented his legacy in the game.
“I think he’s top three [greatest heavyweights of all time],” Bader told Sky Sports.
“I believe you’ve got to throw Fedor (Emelianenko) in there.
“I’m kind of biased, because he’s my buddy, I’ve wrestled with him, but I believe Cain Velasquez when he was in his prime was one of the best heavyweights of all time. I believe if you can bring that Cain Velasquez back, he would run through all these guys. But injuries and all that kind of stuff happened. But definitely Stipe is in the top three.”
Bader was speaking ahead of his own title defence in Bellator on Friday night, as he puts his light-heavyweight strap on the line against Vadim Nemkov.
And he feels his preparations for the bout have gone smoothly thus far, despite the fact there will be no fans.
“I’m kind of enjoying it,” he said. “It’s low-key. I’ve fought in arenas with no fans before – on the Ultimate Fighter television show. I wrestled in arenas that have 200 fans.
“So I’ve been there, done that. It’s kind of relaxing a little bit.
“We didn’t know if we were fighting heavyweight or light-heavyweight until four weeks ago.
“And so, we were like, ‘will it be (Cheick) Kongo again? Can Nemkov get into the country?’ All these different variables.
“I’m just happy to have one right around the corner in a couple of days.”
Although there was initial uncertainty, Nemkov was an opponent for whom he was ready.
“I’ve been watching him for a while,” Bader said. “He’s one of those guys I kind of saw coming up. He’s started beating those bigger names; (Liam) McGeary, and that one fight that really stuck in my mind was the Phil Davis fight. That’s my marker, because I have fought Phil Davis. I know how strong he is, I know how good he is.
“So it’s one of those fights where he’s young, he’s in his prime.
“I’m excited about this fight. It’s a great match-up, he brings it every time. So it couldn’t be a better fight to come down to 205 [lb] for.”
Watch Bellator 244 on Saturday from 3am on Sky Sports Action and Sky Sports Mix.