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Bader wins light heavyweight title in Bellator’s NYC debut

NEW YORK — Ryan Bader defeated Phil Davis by split decision in his Bellator debut to win the promotion’s light heavyweight championship on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.

Bader (23-5) defeated Davis in an MMA bout for the second time in his career and his win capped the undercard in Bellator’s New York debut. Bader won a lackluster bout filled with more boos than blows. Referee Dan Miragliotta stepped between the fighters in the fourth round and warned them about inactivity — one of the few times the crowd cheered in a TV bout designed in part to get fans hooked on ordering Bellator’s second pay-per-view card.

Ryan Bader. AP
Bader had edged out a split decision victory over Davis when the former Division I All-American wrestlers fought for the first time on a UFC card in January 2015. The loss was Davis’ last in UFC and he had won four straight Bellator fights headed into the rematch.

The first fight was widely panned as boring and this one may have topped it for dormancy.

Bellator made its Madison Square Garden debut seven months after UFC christened the arena in the MMA genre with a record $17.7 million gate. Bellator was going to fall well shy of that massive box office bank, but for the No. 2 MMA promotion in the United States, just snagging a spot at MSG was a needed credibility boost.

Bellator will wait to find out if the pay-per-view buys (at $49.95 a clip) hit 200,000, the total the company aimed for to count as a major success. Bellator broadcast on pay-per-view for only the second time in promotional history, signaling another step in its growth as a rival for the industry-leading UFC. Bellator staged its only previous pay-per-view event in May 2014, shortly before CEO Scott Coker took over the promotion.

Source: http://sports.inquirer.net/253508/bader-wins-light-heavyweight-title-bellators-nyc-debut

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