Bellator 280 results: Ryan Bader grinds out Cheick Kongo with wrestling to retain heavyweight title

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Here’s the good news: There was no controversy this time between Ryan Bader and Cheick Kongo. The bad news? Their Bellator 280 headliner was anything but spectacular.

Not that it should matter to Bader, though, as the heavyweight champion repeatedly took down Kongo to grind out a unanimous decision win Friday at Accor Arena in Paris. Bader retained his title with a clean sweep of 50-45 scores from the judges.

The formula was simple for Bader: wrestling, wrestling, wrestling, and more wrestling.

Each round mirrored the previous one, with Bader shooting in for an early take down, getting it, and laying on Kongo against the cage.

“I didn’t want the fight to go like that. I wanted the finish,” said Bader, who added that he was ailed by a stomach bug. “… Kind of an uneventful fight. I didn’t want it to go that way, but I got the win.”

The fight was disappointing for the Parisian fans who came out hoping to see the Frenchman Kongo make history as the oldest first-time champion in MMA history. But it wasn’t to be, as he had no answer for Bader’s grappling.

The rematch between Bader (30-7 MMA, 8-2 BMMA) and Kongo (31-12-2 MMA, 13-4 BMMA) was almost three years in the making after their first fight at Bellator 226 ended in a no contest following an accidental eye poke by Bader.

After beating Kongo, Bader suggested a title fight against Linton Vassell, who’s experienced a resurgence at heavyweight, with a 4-1 record that includes a four-fight winning streak. Bader defeated Vasell by second-round TKO to retain the light heavyweight title in November 2017 at Bellator 186.

Complete Bellator 280 results:

  • Champ Ryan Bader def. Cheick Kongo via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45) – to retain heavyweight title

  • Yoel Romero def. Alex Polizzi via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 4:59

  • Davy Gallon def. Benjamin Brander via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 3:18

  • Lorenz Larkin def. Kyle Stewart via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 4:44

  • Gregory Babene def. Mike Shipman via knockout (punches) – Round 1, 2:11

  • Piotr Niedzielski def. Pedro Carvalho via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

  • Thibault Gouti def. Lewis Long via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

  • Jordan Barton def. Fabacary Diatta via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 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 Letho via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 4:17

  • Bourama Camara def. Victor Verchere via knockout (punches) – Round 1, 3:06