Ryan Bader (Photo/Bellator)
Ryan Bader, former Arizona State wrestler and current Bellator heavyweight champ, held onto his title when his top-of-the-card opponent Cheick Kongo received an unintentional eye poke that resulted in a first-round no-contest decision at Bellator 226 at SAP Center in San Jose, California Saturday night.
"Cheick Kongo fights have a tendency to go a bit sideways, so it's not entirely surprising his bid for Ryan Bader's heavyweight title in the main event of Bellator 226 ended in unusual fashion," according to Brent Brookhouse of CBS Sports.
Here's how Sherdog.comset the scene: "Ryan Bader entered the main event of Bellator 226 as one of the hottest heavyweights in the world and his torrid streak continued on Saturday night. For a few minutes, that is."
"Bader rocked the Frenchman with two left hooks to the jaw and then took him down. Kongo tried like crazy to get back to his feet, but the powerful wrestler used a tremendous amount of pressure to keep his challenger down."
As Bader worked over Kongo on the ground, the one-time Sun Devil landed an eye poke which put a stop to the action. The ringside doctor ruled Kongo unfit to continue, and referee Mike Beltran ruled the strike to be accidental, meaning Bellator 226's main event was ruled a no-contest at 3:25 of the first round of a scheduled five-round bout, allowing Bader to hold onto his heavyweight belt.
"I was feeling strong, the match was going my way and I had him on the ground," said Bader after the match. "I didn't do it on purpose."
Bader, 36, who owns Bellator titles at both heavyweight (265 pounds) and light-heavyweight (205 pounds), is now 27-5 overall (with 1 no-contest) in his pro MMA career going back to March 2007, and remains 5-0 in Bellator. The 44-year-old Kongo, who had his first pro bout in June 2001, is now 30-10-2 (with 1 no-contest) and 12-2 within the Bellator promotion.
Prior to entering MMA competition 12 ½ years ago, Ryan Bader crafted an impressive amateur wrestling career. He was a two-time Nevada state mat champ who later enrolled at Arizona State, where he claimed three Pac-10 conference titles and was a two-time NCAA Division I All-American in 2004 and 2006.