Bellator 256 results, highlights: Ryan Bader stifles Lyoto Machida for decision, advances in Grand Prix

Ryan Bader was looking to exorcise two demons in the main event of Bellator 256. Bader was coming off a brutal knockout loss to Vadim Nemkov that cost him the light heavyweight championship and was standing across the cage from Lyoto Machida, the man who handed Bader the first knockout loss of his career in their first meeting in 2012. He did just that as Bader survived some early struggles in the fight to dominate down the stretch, winning a wide decision and advancing to the semifinals of the Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix in the process.

In the first round, it looked as though Machida may have simply had Bader's number. Bader was ineffective on the feet while Machida's trademark karate stance and footwork allowed him to blister the legs and body with heavy kicks. By the end of the round, Bader had accomplished nearly nothing offensively and his ribs were already bruised from Machida's kicks.

The fight continued to play out the same way through the first half of the second round, when Bader was finally able to close distance and use his wrestling to put the fight on the floor. Once Bader had figured out the path to get inside and put Machida on the canvas, he did not stop for the remainder of the fight.

"Redemption felt good," Bader said after the fight. "I knew I just had to be tough out here. The first couple rounds are tough against Machida. ... [The body kicks] didn't hurt much, they just got my elbow. One got through, but I can take it."

For all his early offensive successes, Machida never got back on track in the fight. Every round, Bader easily closed distance and took the fight to the ground. Machida managed to avoid the stoppage, but took a sustained beating in every frame as Bader worked thudding elbows and punches to the head and body.

By the end of the fight, Machida's face told the story of the fight, with his eye badly swollen and nose bloodied. There simply was no answer to be had for Machida when it came to the smothering ground-and-pound game of Bader.

Bader would take the fight on the scorecards after five rounds, winning by scores of 49-46, 49-45 and 49-45.

Up next, Bader will fight the winner of Corey Anderson and Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov in the tournament semifinals. The bout between Anderson and Yagshimuradov takes place April 16. Asked who he wanted to see in the next round, Bader -- who currently holds the promotion's heavyweight title -- said he'd be pulling for Anderson for helping in prior training camps, but that the goal is ultimately to regain the light heavyweight championship.

"I don't know much about Yags, but I know Corey really well," Bader said. "I brought him in for training camps for Phil Davis and all that. Good guy. I'm rooting for him, but I'll have to fight him. I know he's tough. But I'm in this tournament. I ran through another tournament before and had fun. That's why I came down here. It doesn't matter who's in my way, I want my belt back and this was the first step."

CBS Sports was with you throughout the evening for the latest updates, highlights and results from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut with our live blog below.

Bellator 256 card, results

  • Ryan Bader def. Lyoto Machida via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-45, 49-45)
  • Liz Carmouche def. Vanessa Porto via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Adam Borics def. Jeremy Kennedy via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Cat Zingano def. Olivia Parker via first-round submission (armbar)
  • Dan Moret def. Goiti Yamauchi via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
  • Dalton Rosta def. Tony Johnson via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Talita Nogueira def. Jessica Borga via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-27)
  • Jornel Lugo def. Cass Bell via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Cody Law def. Nathan Ghareeb via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Jaylon Bates def. Jeffrey Glossner via second-round submission (guillotine choke)
  • Nainoa Dung def. Izzy William via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Diana Avsaragova def. Tara Graff via first-round knockout (punch)
  • John Douma def. Will Smith via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
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April 10, 2021, 3:38 AM

Official result: Ryan Bader def. Lyoto Machida via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-45, 49-45) to advance to the semifinals of the Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix.

Bader held on to Machida's legs and took away his arms to allow himself to tee off with little return fire from Machida aside from a few back elbows. Machida again nearly escaped to his feet and Bader went right back to the punches and elbows, finishing off a clear victory after a rough opening round. Unofficial score: 10-9 Bader (49-45)

Ryan Bader vs. Lyoto Machida -- Round 5: Machida tried to get his kicks working to start the final round. Bader easily drove forward into a takedown. Bader went right back to the ground and pound as Machida tried to fight back to his feet. Bader continued driving Machida down into the mat, with Machida looking helpless.

Machida almost kicked Bader off, but Bader got right back on top to continue the assault, dropping one final elbow before the end of the round. Unofficial score: 10-8 Bader (39-36)

Bader continued to dominate on the ground, leaving Machida to just stay on his back and eat heavy punches while doing nothing effective off his back. Bader switched to brutal elbows to the body and face, completely dominating the action.

Ryan Bader vs. Lyoto Machida -- Round 4: Bader feinted, trying to make Machida react early and then landed a jab and a hook. The hook stumbled Machida, allowing Bader to drive forward and score with another takedown. Bader looked to lock up one of Machida's arms but bailed on the submission to go back to the ground and pound.

Bader cracked with more big shots, drawing blood from the face of Machida. Bader dropped elbows both to the head and body of Machida. Unofficial score: 10-9 Bader (29-28)

Bader landed a big right hand and scored with another takedown. Bader locked up Machida on the ground and worked some heavy punches to the face and then a big shot to the body. Bader landed a heavy elbow and a big hammerfist as he controlled the posture of Machida.

Ryan Bader vs. Lyoto Machida -- Round 3: Machida tried to explode with a few punches and threw a head kick that was blocked. A Machida body kick was not blocked, however, landing clean once again. They traded some strikes inside and Bader landed a nice jab. Machida whiffed with a few punches as his face started to show some swelling. 

Bader continued working punches on the ground as Machida tried to work to his feet. Unofficial score: 10-9 Bader (19-19)

Machida landed to the body with another kick. Baderpumped out a few jabs, but his offense continued to stall out whenever he closed distance. Bader landed two right hands and scored with a takedown with two minutes left in the round, landing a hard punch as the fight hit the ground.

Ryan Bader vs. Lyoto Machida -- Round 2: Machida again tried for a head kick before landing hard to the body. Bader threw his own kick to the body moments later, but without the snap of Machida's kicks. 

Bader finally got in with a right hand and then two more as he finally started to close distance. Machida cracked to the body again with a kick, continuing to blister the ribs of Bader. Machida landed a head kick and sent Bader stumbling. In the chaos that followed, Bader grabbed a headlock and landed a knee but the round came to a close. Unofficial score: 10-9 Machida

Bader charged in again, landing a glancing right hand before missing on trying to take Machida down. Bader got inside but again Machida was able to easily slide away.

Machida again landed hard wo the body with a kick. Bader missed with a head kick before throwing his own leg kick. Bader charged in with a left hook that missed wildly as he struggled to find any way inside and getting his body quickly bruised by Machida's kicks.

Ryan Bader vs. Lyoto Machida -- Round 1: Machida attempted to circle outside, keeping distance and trying to avoid any rush from Bader. Machida landed a good leg kick, the first real strike of the fight. For more than a full minute, very little happened aside from a Machida leg kick and another kick to the body.

Next up: It's main event time. Ryan Bader vs. Lyoto Machida rematch in the first round of the Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix.

Official result: Liz Carmouche def. Vanessa Porto via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

Carmouche tried for a single-leg takedown, but it wasn't there for her so she went back to a body lock. Porto worked some knees with her back against the cage as Carmouche continued to grind on her. Carmouche landed an elbow as the fighters broke from the clinch. Carmouche landed a leg kick and then one to the body before a flurry of punches. Carmouche closed the fight with one more hard left hand. Unofficial score: 10-9 Carmouche (30-28)

Liz Carmouche vs. Vanessa Porto -- Round 3: Porto continued to chase Carmouche as she circled around the cage. Carmouche landed a heavy left hand and then a right seconds later. Carmouche again pushed forward, putting Porto's back into the cage.

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