Coker spoke with reporters backstage at Mohegan Sun Arena following Friday night’s Bellator 256 event, which was capped off by Bader’s five-round unanimous decision win over Lyoto Machida in the tournament opener. Bader, who is the reigning heavyweight champion, will move on to face the winner of the upcoming matchup between Corey Anderson and Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov at Bellator 257 this Friday night.
With Bader busy with the grand prix, and having no plans to vacate his heavyweight championship—which he hasn’t been able to defend since fighting Cheick Kongo to a no-contest due to an accidental eye poke at Bellator 226 in September 2019—Coker confirmed plans to crown the first interim champion in the company’s history.
“I think it is [time for an interim title],” Coker said of the heavyweight division. “Ryan’s obviously going to be moving forward in the tournament so we’re most likely going to put together an interim title, which we’ll probably have something announced in the next couple of weeks.
“Maybe we’ll even have something to announce by next week’s event. But I think we’re gonna be heading in that direction.”
Bader returned to the win column after losing the light heavyweight title to Vadim Nemkov at Bellator 244 in August and extracted revenge on Machida, who handed Bader his first knockout loss at UFC on FOX 4 in August 2012.
While Coker was quick to praise the performance of the former two-division champion, he also gave a lot of credit to Machida for his willingness to battle through the adversity.
“I thought he was in a lot of trouble in that first round,” Coker explained. “I would say in the middle of the second round things started changing and he took control of the fight from that point forward.
“That was a great fight. It became one-sided after the end of the third round, but Lyoto is a tough competitor. He took a lot of damage and he could’ve quit but he didn’t. He hung in there and Ryan did what he does best. He took him down, controlled him, ground and pounded him. Lyoto took a lot of shots. I saw his face after the fight and it was brutal.”