Bellator’s light heavyweight tournament is about to really get exciting now, with a main and co-main event that are capable of delivering heavy action.
First up, light heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov (14-2) earned his title in sensational fashion defeating Ryan Bader, then defending successfully against Phil Davis. He’s got a very complete skillset with his Sambo background with both striking and grappling, and looks poised to blaze through the rest of the field in this tournament.
While he was initially slated to face Anthony “Rumble“ Johnson in this round, Johnson was forced to bow out due to illness. This opening leaves an opportunity for alternate Julius Anglickas (10-1) to step up and take the chance of a lifetime against a riddle of a champion that will be tough to solve. Anglickas makes opponents carry his weight, and has acquitted himself well against Alex Polizzi and Gregory Milliard under the Bellator banner. This step up may be too much, unless he’s able to establish control with his grappling and keep that top position for as long as possible. Tough ask, but you never really know.
Former champ Ryan Bader (28-6) remains one of the hardest workers, keeping a high-level wrestling game paired with crisp and technical boxing. While his striking defense has had some lapses, he’s got the firepower to compensate for that. Now he’s got the unenviable task of facing Corey Anderson (15-5), who has seen something of a resurgence since leaving the UFC. Sure, a win against an older and undersized Melvin Manhoef may not be a major notch in his belt to some, but he gutted it out against a hard hitter and outworked him. That was followed up in his bout against Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov, an unheralded talent that had some great wins on the European scene.
Does Bader compensate for the reach disadvantage with volume? Can he outwrestle an already sturdy and clever wrestler in Anderson? Tough call, because Corey manages range well and can be pretty fast in closing distance. Bader still has his submission savvy to fall back on and packs a punch in close range, so he may be able to bait Corey into the phone booth and punish him there. Again, a difficult one to pick.
Former UFC champion Benson Henderson (28-10) has had a very rough stretch in Bellator, and looks to snap a two-fight losing skid against Brent Primus. Primus is a dedicated submission grappler with a wrestling background. Primus is also a lengthy striker with a good jab and forward movmement, while Henderson is not quite as mobile, elusive and agile as before. He’s had a tougher time using what suits him best as of late, and will be a firm test for the younger Primus.
Henry Corrales (18-6) remains one of the most interesting talents on the Bellator roster, bringing an action-friendly style against submission specialist Vladyslav Parubchenko (16-2). Dovletzhan Yagshimuradov (18-6, 1 draw) meets wily-haired former RIZIN talent Karl Albrektsson (12-3) in what should be a frantic bout.
Lance Gibson Jr. (4-0) has become another Bellator project that should pay off big, and he’s got his hands full against Raymond Pina (9-4). Finally, an excellent matchup on the prelims is set as Mujhamed Berkhamov (14-1) meets Jaleel Willis (15-2). Willis is a sturdy welterweight that uses his athleticism well for hard strikes at a distance and some heavy sprawls. He’s deceptively strong and runs a hard pace once he takes over.
Berkhamov is fun. A lot of fun.
Bellator’s Countdown specials remain very well-made and very much worth your time. Be sure to check this one out:
As usual, you can check out the weigh-ins here:
Full card is as follows:
Vadim Nemkov (204.7) (c) vs. Julius Anglickas (204) – – Light heavyweight tournament bout
Ryan Bader (204.1) vs. Corey Anderson (203.7) – Light heavyweight tournament bout
Benson Henderson (155.5) vs. Brent Primus (155.4) – Lightweight
Henry Corrales (145.6) vs. Vladyslav Parubchenko (145.4) – Featherweight
Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov (205.4) vs. Karl Albrektsson (204.1) – Light heavyweight
Sullivan Cauley (205.2) vs. Deon Clash (204.2) – Light Heavyweight
Nick Browne (155.3) vs. Bobby Lee (156.8)* – Lightweight
Javier Torres (184.3) vs. Gregory Milliard (184.6) – Middleweight
Sumiko Inaba (124.9) vs. Randi Field (125.9) – Flyweight
Raymond Pina (154.6) vs. Lance Gibson Jr. (155.5) – Lightweight
Raphael Montini (135) vs. Jaylon Bates (135) – Bantamweight
Mukhamed Berkhamov (170.7) vs. Jaleel Willis (169.9) – Welterweight
Collette Santiago (126) vs. Maria Henderson (123.7) – Flyweight
Bellator 268: Nemkov vs Anglickas takes place this Saturday night with prelims starting at 7:00pm EST on YouTube, followed by the main card on Showtime starting at 10:00pm.
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