Bellator In The 2010s: Looking Back At The Heavyweight Division
From Cole Konrad to Ryan Bader, the Bellator heavyweight division has been controlled by just a handful of wrestlers during the decade.
The first Bellator heavyweight champion was crowned in 2010 when Cole Konrad claimed the title.
Konrad, of course, eventually retired two years later, leaving the sport on top.
Since that time, three other fighters have risen through the ranks to claim the title of Bellator heavyweight champion.
Currently, Ryan Bader is a double-champ, holding both the heavyweight and light heavyweight crowns.
While maintaining the light heavyweight title, Ryan Bader went through the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix to come out on top as champion.
Bader bested the legendary Fedor Emelianenko at Bellator 214 on January 26, 2019 in the grand prix finals.
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Since that victory, “Darth” has put the belt up for grabs just once, fighting Cheick Kongo to a no-contest last September at Bellator 226. His current run totals over 440 days.
In 2013, Vitaly Minakov scored a victory over his fellow Russian heavyweight to become the champion.
Minakov bested Alexander Volkov at Bellator 108 on November 15, 2013 from Atlantic City. His title reign would last 911 days and include a victory over Cheick Kongo.
In 2016, Bellator stripped Minakov of the belt after failing to make a scheduled title defense.
Just the second man to hold the belt, Alexander Volkov claimed the title at Bellator 84 on December 14, 2012 with a victory over Rich Hale.
The title had been declared vacant and Volkov came out on top of the season tournament with a decision victory over Hale.
Along with Volkov and Hale, the tournament also included Mark Holata, Brett Rogers, Mike Wessel, Eric Prindle and Thiago Santos.
Volkov held the belt for 337 days before losing to fellow Russian Vitaly Minakov in 2013.
Bellator had its own Brock Lesnar in Cole Konrad, or at least that is what they were hoping.
Konrad, a former University of Minnesota wrestling standout, won the inaugural title on October 14, 2010 at Bellator 32 in Kansas City with a victory over Neil Grove. Konrad won the bout via submission.
The tournament also included Eddie Sanchez, Mike Hayes, future UFC fighter Alexey Oleinik, Rogent Lloret, Damian Grabowski and Scott Barrett.
He would defend it once during his 699-day reign, topping Eric Prindle at Bellator 70 in 2012. A few months after that, Konrad retired from the sport, vacating the belt.