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Ryan Bader retained the Bellator MMA light heavyweight championship with a second-round stoppage of Linton Vassell on Nov. 3, 2017. The title has remained on ice ever since, owing to Bader’s pursuits in the 2018-19 Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix—a tournament he won to become the promotion’s first simultaneous two-division champion.
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 8 winner will return to more familiar haunts and put his 205-pound crown on the line for the first time in nearly three years when he faces Vadim Nemkov in the Bellator 244 headliner on Friday at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Bader has compiled a 5-0 record with one no contest in six outings since joining the Bellator roster. Meanwhile, Nemkov finds himself on a career-best six-fight winning streak ahead of the most significant opportunity as a professional. He last competed at Bellator 230, where he submitted Rafael Carvalho with a second-round rear-naked choke on Oct. 12.
As Bader and Nemkov make their final preparations, a look at some of the numbers that have accompanied them to this point:
37: Years of age for Bader, who was born in Reno, Nevada, on June 7, 1983.
5: Sub-minute finishes on the Bader resume. He put away Dicky Chavez with punches 41 seconds into their Sept. 15, 2007 pairing in King of the Cage, submitted Buckley Acosta with an arm-triangle choke 47 seconds into their April 5, 2008 confrontation in Xtreme Cage Combat, dispatched Vladimir Matyushenko with a guillotine choke 50 seconds into their Jan. 26, 2013 clash at UFC on Fox 6, dismissed Muhammed Lawal with punches 15 seconds into their May 12, 2018 encounter at Bellator 199 and cut down Fedor Emelianenko with punches 35 seconds into their Jan. 26, 2019 showdown at Bellator 214.
0: Bader losses by decision. He owns a perfect 12-0 in fights that have gone the distance.
15: Wins for Bader in the Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight division—good for second on the promotion’s all-time list at 205 pounds. Only Jon Jones (20) has more.
2: Submission defeats on the Bader ledger, as he tapped to guillotine chokes from the aforementioned Jones and Tito Ortiz in back-to-back appearances in 2011. He submitted to Jones at UFC 126 and conceded defeat to Ortiz five months later at UFC 132.
28: Years of age for Nemkov, who was born in Belgorod, Russia, on June 20, 1992.
4: Combat sambo world championships on Nemkov’s mantle. An Emelianenko protégé, he struck gold at the World Sambo Championships in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2019. Nemkov was a bronze medalist at the 2013 event.
22: Seconds needed for Nemkov to knock out Joaquim Ferreira under the League S-70 banner in August 2015. Having occurred in his fourth professional appearance, it remains the fastest finish of his 13-fight career.
.837: Cumulative winning percentage between the two men—Jiri Prochazka and Karl Albrektsson—who have managed to beat Nemkov.
3: Nemkov wins over former Bellator champions. In addition to Carvalho, he has defeated Phil Davis and Liam McGeary. Only Davis forced Nemkov to go the distance.