Corey Anderson knew he was mere seconds away from defeating Vadim Nemkov at Bellator 277, but an accidental headbutt saw the fight end without the definitive outcome he hoped for.
Anderson challenged Nemkov on Friday for the light heavyweight championship, which also served as the Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix finale. With a win over Nemkov, ‘Overtime’ would have won the belt and taken home an extra $1 million paycheck. Anderson left the Bellator cage with neither of those prizes after a fight-ending clash of heads led to the unfortunate result.
Near the end of the third round, Anderson was dominating in side control and raining down punches on Nemkov. One of those completely missed its target, and as Anderson fell forward, he accidentally headbutted Nemkov. A cut above the left eye of Nemkov opened up, which Anderson immediately pointed out to referee Frank Trigg.
Trigg stopped the action and requested the cageside physician, who examined the cut and declared it was too deep for Nemkov to continue. Because three rounds had not been completed in the five-round fight, it was ruled a No Contest. Upon hearing the result, Anderson was infuriated. However, once the 32-year-old arrived at his post-fight press conference, he had come to terms with what had happened.
“I’m over it now,” said Anderson (video provided by MMA Fighting). “I mean, I’m not over it, over it, but a coach of mine told me in college, ‘You got five minutes to sulk.’ I had those five minutes. I jumped in the shower, nothing we can do about it now. It’s very upsetting, especially because I broke him. You can’t say that I wasn’t winning the fight when the clash happened. It is what it is. I went out there and did exactly what I was supposed to do, like I said I was going to do. I was going to go out there and dominate. He can’t handle my wrestling, the ground-and-pound and I was pacing myself. I knew in the fourth round, it was going to be over. Like I told the coaches. They’re screaming, ‘Go, go, go’ and I had my head to his chest and I could hear him gargling for air. I knew like fourth round, just take him down and finish him then.
“But there’s a good sport in me,” continued Anderson. “I saved him myself, you know? I felt our heads hit and the ref was like, ‘Keep going, keep going!’ and I said, ‘I headbutted him’ and that’s why they stopped it. So if I wouldn’t have said anything, in three seconds it would’ve been over and I’d be the champ. But, the good sport in me…it is what it is.”
Because of the controversial ending, an immediate rematch is on the horizon for Anderson. He told assembled media that he would like it to come as soon as possible but doubts it will get done in the next couple of months.
Bellator president Scott Coker revealed that as long as both men are ready, the rematch would be scheduled for the late summer. That timeline works for Anderson, but he worries that Nemkov will not be available by then because of the potential damage he sustained in the fight.
“I would like to go as soon as possible, but we were in the medical tent next to each other and the one cut, he got to get plastic surgery for that and the other cut, I guess I crushed his orbital so he’s gonna be out for a while on that as well,” said Anderson. “So I’m pretty sure he’s gonna try to push the fight back as long as he can, maybe even to 2023, which I hope not. But as soon as possible, I would like to get it over with, so I can move on, get this money and get back to living my life with my family and not in training camp for a year straight like I have been.”
The winner of the Grand Prix will officially be determined once Nemkov and Anderson rematch in the near future. Coker confirmed that the $1 million will still be awarded.
About the author