Bellator In The 2010s: Looking Back At The Light Heavyweight Division
Just like at heavyweight, Ryan Bader stands tall as the reigning Bellator MMA light heavyweight champion, a title he won vs. Phil Davis.
“Darth,” a former winner of The Ultimate Fighter, has controlled the two divisions for the better part of the past year-plus.
Bader won his first major mixed martial arts belt in 2017 with a victory over Phil Davis.
The first 205-pound champion in Bellator was crowned in 2011 when Christian M’Pumbu topped Rich Hale. Ironically enough, Hale also made the first heavyweight tournament final, coming up short vs. Cole Konrad.
After a standout career on the wrestling mats, Ryan Bader took to MMA and shined.
Bader won The Ultimate Fighter and was a constant contender in the UFC before departing for Bellator MMA.
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In 2017, “Darth” won the light heavyweight title at Bellator 180 in New York City over Phil Davis. He has held the belt for over 1,000 days, including a title defense vs. Linton Vassell at Bellator 186.
While his appearances at light heavyweight have been sporadic, Bader has remained active, winning the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix to claim that division title.
Much like Ryan Bader, Phil Davis could never quite claim gold in the UFC.
That changed at Bellator 163 on November 4, 2016 when he downed Liam McGeary for the Bellator light heavyweight championship.
“Mr. Wonderful,” a former Penn State University national wrestling champion, held the title for 232 days before falling to Bader.
The big man from England climbed all the way to the top at 205 pounds with a victory over Emanuel Newton at Bellator 134 on February 27, 2015.
McGeary would hold the title for 617 days, including a victory over Tito Ortiz at Bellator 142: Dynamite 1 on September 19, 2015.
A surprising champion for Bellator, Newton won both eh interim and unified titles in 2013 and 2014.
Up first, he downed Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal for the interim belt at Bellator 106 on November 13. Early that next year, he was declared the undisputed champion and held that belt for 343 days.
Newton defended twice, topping Joey Beltran and Linton Vassell.
After running through a tournament, Attila Vegh cashed in on his title shot, scoring a victory over Christian M’Pumbu at Bellator 91 on February 28, 2013.
In his first defense, though, Vegh lost to Emanuel Newton via split decision and left the promotion in 2014. His title reign lasted for 387 days.
The first-ever Bellator light heavyweight champion was crowned in 2011 at Bellator 45 when Christian M’Pumbu downed Rich Hale.
M’Pumbu topped Chris Davis, Tim Carpenter and Hale to win the tournament. The event also included Daniel Gracie, Nik Fekete, Raphael Davis and D.J. Linderman.
In all, M’Pumbu was champion for 650 days and did not make a title defense.