Bellator 273: Ryan Bader 'not done yet’ as he looks to put on a show against Valentin Moldavsky

Ryan Bader doesn’t feel like retiring anytime soon as he ‘still feels the fire’ going into Saturday's heavyweight clash against Valentin Moldavsky.

The pair will clash for the very first time as Bader looks to hold on to his heavyweight crown. The 38-year-old was questioned about the possibility of him hanging up his gloves and whether fighting has now become a chore.

Bader responded by admitting he has no reason to quit as he still feels the same determination and excitement to battle in the octagon.

He said: "Throughout my career I have always had that drive. I am competitive and I'm not done yet. I feel that fire still, I feel healthy, and I can train the way I need to train to be successful. For me I don't want to look back and regret not fighting more.

"I feel amazing and I don't see quitting in the near future."

American light heavyweight MMA fighter Ryan Bader gives a press conference on winning the Bellator Heavyweight World Grand Prix final bout against his Russian rival Fedor Emelianenko at the Forum in Inglewood, California; Bader knocked out Emeilanenko 35 seconds into the bout.

'The Master' has lost two out of his last three bouts - his last to Corey Anderson in October last year - taking his overall record to 28-7.

Despite his dip in form, the experienced Bader believes that he can take advantage of the Russian's weaknesses and retain his title.

He added: "I've been in the Octagon with some of the best fighters in the world, highly decorated black belts and World Champions.

"I'm totally fine with wherever this fight goes whether that is standing, I'm not afraid to mix it up and take him down. I think he is good, he is good on the ground and on his feet, but I feel that I can exploit him.

"He is an interim champion, great prospect, I had my eyes on him for a while, and here we are, we get to do it in Phoenix."

RYAN BADER is introduced to the crowd before the fight held at Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pennsylvania.

The American returns to the Arizona octagon only three months after facing the canvas for the seventh time in his lustrous career.

Bader lost via TKO to Anderson, 51 seconds into the first round of the Bellator Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix semi-final.

Despite that set back, The Master hopes to use his previous defeat to his advantage as he seeks redemption in-front of a home crowd.

"The last fight was not the result we wanted, but the crowd showed up, Arizona showed up, packed the house and they wanted to come back.

"They asked if it was too soon to come back in January and I said no, let's get a little bit of redemption here in-front of a hometown crowd."

Although Bader seeks to leave Phoenix victorious, his Russian counterpart Valentin Moldavsky believes he can not only overcome Bader physically, but also mentally, reminding Bader of his previous defeat on home soil.

He said: "I hope to TKO or KO Bader in the first or second round. But, if I need to, I will fight all five rounds, I am ready for this.

"Anything can happen. I watched his fight [against Anderson] with my coach and [we] watched Bader. Its MMA, this loss doesn't make Bader a bad fighter, one punch and it could be over.

"I haven't fought in Arizona, but he lost his last fight in this city. Mentally this cannot be good especially as he lost through a TKO."

Moldavsky is on a six-fight unbeaten run in Bellator since joining the promotion in 2017. However, the 29-year-old is aware of Bader's fighting style and knows that a fast start could be crucial.

Bader has won most of his bouts through decision (13 out of his 28 wins) and hasn't lost a single five-round bout.

Moldavsky, on the other hand, has only won a single fight through knockout, beating Ernest James at Bellator 202 in 2018. With that in mind, producing an early finish could be a tough task bearing in mind Bader's impressive ability to hold out to the very end.

Nevertheless, Moldavsky has made it clear that we should expect Bader on the ground in the first two rounds of Bellator 273 and the Russian to be the new heavyweight champion.

He added: "This fight is a bad idea if I was to fight Bader in all five rounds. It is better if I finish him in the first or second, as he does not lose fights on decision, he always wins on decision.

"He has only lost via TKO or submission, so I have to beat him early."

Full card for Bellator 273

Main Card

Ryan Bader vs. Valentin Moldavsky

Ben Henderson vs. Islam Mamedov

Henry Corrales vs. Aiden Lee

Sabah Homasi vs. Jaleel Willis

Preliminary Card

Darrion Caldwell vs. Enrique Barzola

Saad Awad vs. Chris Gonzalez

Dalton Rosta vs. Duane Johnson

Nikita Mikhailov vs. Blaine Shutt

Lucas Brennan vs. Ben Lugo

Weber Almeida vs. Fabricio Franco

Sullivan Cauley vs. Ben Parrish

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