Ryan Bader retained his Bellator heavyweight title in Paris as he scored a dominant decision victory over Cheick Kongo at Bellator 280.
In a fight lacking in excitement or crowd-pleasing action, Bader easily shut down Kongo, who repeatedly backed away to the cage, only to be continually taken to the mat by the champion.
Kongo simply had no answer to Bader’s wrestling, and made no impression on the champion on the rare occasion that he let his strikes go, as the American ground his way to a shutout win, with scores of 50-45 on all three scorecards.
In the co-main event, Cuba’s Yoel Romero claimed his first win inside the Bellator cage with a buzzer-beating TKO of Alex Polizzi.
Romero held the upper hand throughout the bout, and dropped Polizzi twice during the contest as his fast hands and sledgehammer-like punch power proved too much for Polizzi.
However, “Easy” did a remarkable job to keep going, and appeared to have taken “The Soldier of God” the distance as the 10-second clapper sounded to mark the final moments of the fight.
But, roared on by the Paris crowd, Romero unleashed one final flurry as he dropped Polizzi again, then sent his man staggering with a huge shot as the American tried to get back up.
Referee Mike Beltran decided he’d seen enough and, just as the final bell sounded, stepped in to stop the bout as Romero claimed a last-second finish.
𝑬𝒇𝒇𝒐𝒓𝒕𝒍𝒆𝒔𝒔 👏@YoelRomeroMMA back at his best inside the Bellator cage.#Bellator280 is live on @bbcthree pic.twitter.com/goa4jobeF3
— Bellator Europe (@Bellator_Europe) May 6, 2022
After his victory, it was announced that Romero would face the man he was supposed to face in Paris, Dutch legend Melvin Manhoef, on September 23 in Dublin, Ireland, before the pair faced off in a good-natured staredown.
Bellator 280: Official Results
- Ryan Bader (c) def. Cheick Kongo via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45) – for heavyweight title
- Yoel Romero def. Alex Polizzi via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 4:59
- Davy Gallon def. Benjamin Brander via TKO (ground strikes) – Round 2, 3:18
- Lorenz Larkin def. Kyle Stewart via TKO (ground strikes) – Round 1, 4:44
- Gregory Babene def. Mike Shipman via knockout (punches) – Round 1, 2:11
- Piotr Niedzielski def. Pedro Carvalho via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
- Thibault Gouti def. Lewis Long via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Jordan Barton def. Fabacary Diatta via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
- Soren Bak def. Charlie Leary via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28)
- Yves Landu def. Gavin Hughes via TKO (body kick) – Round 1, 3:01
- Lucie Bertaud def. Katarzyna Sadura via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
- Youcef Ouabbas def. Matthieu Duclos via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 4:17
- Bourama Camara def. Victor Verchere via knockout (punches) – Round 1, 3:06