UNCASVILLE, Conn. – Ryan Bader advanced to the Bellator light heavyweight grand prix semifinals.

That’s good news for Bader (28-6 MMA, 6-1 BMMA), who seeks to avenge the title he lost last August. At the same time, that’s bad news for the Bellator heavyweight division in which Bader holds a title.

Bader, 37, has competed only once at heavyweight since he captured the heavyweight strap in January 2019. The fight ended in a no contest after an inadvertent eye poke from Bader left Cheick Kongo unable to continue.

Bader’s 19-month absence from the division has left contenders like Timothy Johnson wondering what’s next for his future, with the upper echelon largely stagnant.

On Friday, Bellator president Scott Coker revealed at a Bellator 256 post-fight news conference that the promotion expects to implement an interim title as Bader continues his potential ascent toward the grand prix final.

“Ryan is obviously going to move forward in the tournament now,” Coker said. “We’re most likely going to put together an interim title, which we’ll have something to announce in a couple of weeks. Maybe by even next week’s event, we’ll have something to announce. But I think we’re going to be heading in that direction now.”

Bellator has had three interim champions in the promotion’s history, but it hasn’t had one since Will Brooks held the interim lightweight title in 2014.