Ryan Bader was crowned Bellator’s new light-heavyweight champion tonight in New York City after he just edged out Phil Davis via split decision in what proved to be a lackluster five-round fight.
Bader taking the center of the Octagon to start as Davis pumps out the jab from outside.
Bader misses with a right hand and Davis moves into the clinch, driving his opponent to the cage, but they quickly separate.
Leg kick for Davis. Left hand for Bader. Now he lands a leg kick too. Body kick for Bader.
Punch then a leg kick from the champion Davis. Bader with a three-piece combo, with the first two being blocked, but the third getting through.
Leg kick for Davis. Front kick to the body from him. Another leg kick. Now a rangey left hand.
Bader circling Davis and then presses forward with a couple of punches down the pipe.
Now it’s Davis’ turn to put on the pressure, letting his hands go with Bader’s back to the cage.
Bader goes for a kick and a punch, but doesn’t land cleanly. Grazing punch lands for the challenger.
Now a body kick for Bader. Another one as Davis just misses with a hook. Davis threatens with a kick that whistles past Bader’s head.
Bader steps into a kick. Front kick to the midsection for Davis. Neither fighter has really stamped their authority on the fight so far.
Body kick for Davis. One-two for Bader comes up short. He ducks under a kick from Davis.
Davis tries for a takedown, but Bader stuffs it. Solid body kick for Bader.
Leg kick for Davis. Davis tries for a right hand and slides across the mat awkwardly.
Bader fakes a shot and then lands an overhand instead. Final seconds of a relatively uneventful round pass by without anything meaningful landed. No sign yet that this fight is going to be any better than the last time these two met in the UFC.
A lot of punches coming up short from both men in the first ten minutes, and that’s a theme that’s continuing early in the third.
Suddenly Davis lands a superman punch and then a left hand behind it and that did connect solidly.
Bader looking to throw some heavy leather of his own now. Side kick attempt to the body from Bader.
Jab lands cleanly for Bader. He tries to double up on the right hand, but doesn’t connect. Body kick for Davis.
Crowd starting to boo the relative lack of action in this title encounter. Bader stepping into a leg kick.
Exchange at close range. Bader with a punch down the pipe. Body kick for Davis. Davis goes for that superman punch again, but no joy this time around.
Final 20 seconds of the round and suddenly Bader goes for his first takedown of the fight and lands it.
Davis scrambling though and he gets on top just as the round is coming to a close.
Straight right connects for Davis. Now he goes to the leg with kicks. Now one for Bader.
The ref Miragliotta stops the fight for a moment and demands action from the two fighters.
Davis lets a few punches fly. He ducks as if going for a takedown and then goes upstairs with a two-piece combo.
Overhand right for Davis and an uppercut in return from Bader. Body punch into a head kick from Davis that grazes the top of Bader’s head.
Left hand lands from a Davis combo. He’s picked up the pace a bit in this round and Bader is often on the back foot. Bader does stop for a moment though and plant a body kick. Davis returns with a kick of his own.
Bader pumps the jab. Body punches for Davis and then a winging hook upstairs misses.
Body kick for Davis. Bader with a jab as Davis attempts a kick. Knee for Davis as Bader lands a hook.
A little more action in that round, but still a fairly tepid affair overall, especially given that this is a title fight. The pre-fight assurances from the fighters that this wouldn’t be a repeat performance of their previous encounter have so far not proven to be true.
Davis reaching with the right hand. Brief clinch and Bader shoves Davis aside.
left hand lands for Davis. Body kick for Bader. Leg kick for him and a left hand for Davis.
Winging overhand scores for Davis, but a head kick doesn’t find the target. Jab for Davis. Now one for Bader.
Kick for Davis. left hook without much power behind it from Bader. Shortly afterwards Bader powers into a takedown that he lands, but Davis is quickly back to his feet.
Bader presses him into the cage, but then opts to separate with around two minutes remaining.
Leg kick for Davis, then a body punch. Punches coming up short from Davis. Both men swatting at thin air now.
Bader in on another takedown, but this time he doesn’t land it and Davis shrugs him off.
We’re headed to the judges to find a winner here.
There wasn’t a whole lot to choose from between these two and that results in a split decision verdict from the judges, with two of them seeing it in Ryan Bader’s favor, crowning him Bellator’s new light-heavyweight champion (49-46 x2, 47-48).