The Bellator Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix continues this Friday with a pair of quarterfinal fights. In the first tournament bout, Corey Anderson will take on Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov. The night's main event features light heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov taking on Phil Davis for both the title and a trip to the tournament semifinals.
Nemkov beat Davis in a 2018 bout, taking a split decision at Bellator 209. Two fights after the win over Davis, Nemkov won the light heavyweight title with a knockout victory over Ryan Bader in 2020. The fight with Davis is his first title defense and comes in a tournament loaded with big names.
Davis rebounded from the loss to Nemkov with a three-fight winning streak that he'll bring into the cage on Friday. In his most recent fight, he picked up a split decision win over fellow tournament participant Lyoto Machida. Machida lost his opening round fight to Ryan Bader this past Friday.
Nemkov and Davis took part in a highly-competitive bout at Bellator 209 in Nov. 2018, which ultimately saw Nemkov walk away with a razor-thin split-decision win in Tel Aviv, Israel. A couple of wins over Rafael Carvalho and Ryan Bader later, Nemkov was the Bellator MMA Light Heavyweight champion. Undefeated for the promotion (5-0), Nemkov is currently riding a seven fight win streak and hasn’t tasted defeat in nearly five years, proving that the promotion has itself a legit contender who, oh by the way, is one of Fedor Emelianenko’s protégés in sambo. In short: Nemkov has it all and it is going to take a gargantuan effort to knock him off his pedestal. The No. 2 ranked pound-for-pound best fighter on Bellator’s roster has the tools and resume to become a big star for Scott Coker and Co., and winning the Grand Prix is a good way to get there.
Standing in his way is Davis (again), who looks to collect his fourth straight win and get some revenge on the Russian-born champion. With such a close bout in their first encounter, there probably isn’t much else Davis could have done right in the first outing short of getting a finish ... but that’s obvious. Trying to score the knockout or submission will be tough against Nemkov because he has yet to suffer such a defeat in his career. Three of “Mr. Wonderful’s” last four wins have come by way of stoppage, so he has the tool kit to get it done
Two fights before winning the Bellator light heavyweight championship, Vadim Nemkov announced his place as a major force in the division with a split decision win over Phil Davis. On Friday night, the two men will rematch at Bellator 257 in the first round of the Bellator Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix with Nemkov's title on the line.
Nemkov has gone 5-0 in the Bellator cage, looking increasingly impressive leading up to an August 2020 knockout of Ryan Bader to win the championship. Davis has won three straight fights since the loss to Nemkov, picking up two wins by TKO and taking a split decision win over Lyoto Machida.
There is one other tournament fight set for the event, with Corey Anderson looking to build on the strong start to his Bellator career when he takes on the debuting Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov. Yagshimuradov enters the cage on an eight-fight winning streak.
Bellator keeps rolling to make up for their extended hiatus, making the most of the start to the Showtime era. This may be the most packed show yet, with tons of vets and handful of very good prospects getting some work in.
The light heavyweight tournament is in full swing with champion Vadim Nemkov (13-2) defending his title in the first bracket against former UFC and Bellator champ Phil Davis (22-5). Vadim brings his Sambo predigree, but his crushing power and accuracy as how he managed to topple Ryan Bader in the first place to get that big gold belt. Davis still brings his wrestling, even if his phase shifting is a bit uneven and he prioritizes control over short-term damage or standing exchanges.
Another tournament bout for the evening is former UFC talent Corey Anderson (14-5) against Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov (18-5, 1 NC). We all know Corey Anderson, he’s a wrestler that hits extra hard and manages to outhustle opponents with superior positioning and great striking choices when he’s in top position. But who exactly is Yagshimuradov? He’s a former ACB/ACA fighter that lands monster takedowns only to maul people on the ground once he has them there. Either that or he makes their body quit en route to a submission. But what about his power? He’s dumb strong. He ends fights definitively. Anderson is going to have to be extra methodical here and mind his distance and defense to control this bout. Otherwise, Yagshimuradov is going to have a very wild coming out party.
Paul Daley (42-17, 2 draws) will be having his retirement bout against Sabah Homasi (15-8), which is a compelling bout for both participants. Homasi has a pretty well-rounded game, but Daley always packs that fight-ending power. The difference here is whether or not Daley can use his setups to land the major shots here, something he hasn’t quite been able to do for a while. We’ll see if he gets the sendoff he’s hoping for, or if Homasi spoils the party for him with control and volume.
Former champ Julia Budd (14-3) gets a nifty little challenge against Dayana Silva (9-5), a bout she most likely should be favored in. Her stepson Lance Gibson, Jr (3-0) seems to be a prized prospect for Bellator, and he’ll be in the saddle again taking on Marcus Surin (6-2).