Vadim Nemkov has clearly established himself as the man to beat in Bellator’s light heavyweight tournament, after Friday night’s convincing title defense over Phil Davis.
Nemkov (14-3) is already Bellator’s 205-pound champion, but with bigger names in the campaign tournament such as Anthony “Rumble” Johnson, Yoel Romero and Ryan Bader, it would be easy to overlook him. The 28-year-old Russian reminded the rest of the field of his talents on Friday, however, in a five-round decision over Davis.
All three referees scored the championship match, which heading Bellator 257 inside the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, for Nemkov 48-47. The victory marks Nemkov̵
“My plan was to overtake him and defend his wrestling,” Nemkov said via an interpreter. “I’m pretty happy with my performance, but I was wrong. I’m working on them for next time.”
Nemkov, who trains under the legendary Russian heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko, looked excellent in the first three rounds. He mixed his offense beautifully and attacked Davis’ leading leg with low kicks and his body and head with punching combinations. He dropped Davis with a left hook in the middle of the cage in the third round.
Davis (22-6), who sought to avenge a very closely divided decision loss to Nemkov from 2018, turned the tide in later rounds. He landed an advantage just close to the back of Nemkov’s ear, temporarily throwing his balance and forcing him to start retiring for the first time in the fight. Davis continued to build on that momentum in a hotly contested fifth round, but the 13-year-old veteran dug himself too deep into a hole. Davis’ remarkable state of never finishing a fight, however, remains intact.
For Nemkov, it expands his active winning streak to eight in a row. He finds out his next opponent on May 7, when Johnson and Romero meet at Bellator 258. Both former UFC vets make their Bellator MMA debut.
Anderson advances to the semifinals with a dominant display
Corey Anderson (15-5) has made no secret of the fact he intends to take his opponents down and knock them out until someone stops him. Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov could not stop him.
Anderson advanced to the Bellator MMA lightweight heavyweight tournament semifinals by finishing Yagshimuradov (18-6-1) via TKO at. 2:15 in the third round. The win moves him into a matchup against former champion Ryan Bader, who defeated Lyoto Machida in his opening round a week ago.
Fighting out of New Jersey, Anderson used his wrestling to take Yagshimuradov down in the second and third rounds and completely neutralize his offense. The Turkmenistan native chased a couple of home contracts in the opening round and was close to dropping Anderson with a spinning header, but eventually succumbed during the wrestling quite early.
“I was not hurt, just knocked out of balance,” Anderson said on the main kick, appearing to stun him. “I said to the coach, ‘I’m fine, it did not shake me. But it took me out of where I was.’ I just kept calm and reached the next round. “
When Anderson started getting Yagshimuradov to the ground, things quickly snowballed for the former UFC veteran. He went to work from top position with elbows and moved in at full mount at some point in the second round. Yagshimuradov was having a great game – if anything the pouring rain seemed to be spurring him on!
Anderson improves to 2-0 in the Bellator MMA cage.
Daley overcomes hard start, knocking Homasi out in two
Paul Daley said he did not respect Sabah Homasi’s strike force, which went into their 175-pound catch weight fight Friday night – but it did not take long before that changed.
Daley (42-17-2) scored a TKO finish over Homasi (15-8) at 1:44 in the second round, but only after he was almost knocked out even in the opening minutes of the match. Homasi, who trains out of the U.S. top team, shook Daley with an early right hand and dropped him moments later with blows along the fence.
Judge Kevin Macdonald remained right on top of the action, but Daley, 38, did just enough to survive. After getting up again, he quickly turned the tables and stunned Homasi with three unanswered knees in clinch in the last minute of the opening round. The finish came quickly in the second when Daley started with equal rights and then a hard left hook.
“I did not give him the respect he deserves,” Daley said. “That child can hit just as hard as [welterweight champion Douglas Lima]. When I look back on my fights, I do not really fall down and I have been in there with some of the best strikes. Much respect to Homasi. “
For Daley, who is fighting out of Nottingham, England, it was his first appearance since October 2019.
Former title challenger Arteaga earns nod over Yanez
Flyweight candidate Veta Arteaga (6-4) managed to nominate Desiree Yanez (5-3) via majority decision despite a points deduction in the second round for an illegal knee.
Two referees scored the match 29-27 for Arteaga, while a third had it 28-28 draw with the points deduction. Arteaga was anchored a point to throw a knee to a grounded opponent as she did not see Yanez had a hand on the mat in a front lock position. However, Yanez was not badly injured by the knee and managed to continue after a short break.
All in all, it was Arteaga’s boxing that dictated the fight as she maintained a constant strict offense on her feet. Yanez had his moments and mixed a handful of takedowns, but just couldn’t score enough to beat Arteaga on scorecards. Arteaga, who unsuccessfully challenged Ilima-Lei Macfarlane to the title in April 2019, snapped a two-match slip.