Phil Davis and Ryan Bader’s rematch looked a lot like the first time they fought two years ago under a different promotional banner. And once again, Bader got the scorecard nod.
After five rounds of workmanlike action, Bader (23-5 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) to take the Bellator light heavyweight title from Davis (17-4 MMA, 4-1 BMMA) via split decision in his promotional debut.
The light heavyweight title bout closed out the Bellator 180 portion of today’s Bellator NYC event at Madison Square Garden in New York City. It aired on Spike following additional prelims on MMAjunkie and ahead of the main card on pay-per-view.
The final scorecards were 49-46 twice for Bader and 48-47 for Davis, reflecting a bout that was tough to score. Both fighters had their moments throughout the fight, and it appeared Davis had the early edge in volume. But Bader’s late fight surge may have swayed the scores, as he came on strong in the fifth and final round, landing several big punches.
Davis worked the legs early with kicks and tried bait Bader into a takedown, a strategy that didn’t put him in top position. Bader kept a steady jab and tried to set up for his big right hand, only to miss most of…