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Bellator 257: Nemkov and Anderson Punch Tickets to Grand Prix Semifinals

Vadim Nemkov came into the Bellator Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix as the defending champion, but arguably had the most to prove. Nemkov (14-2) passed his first test as champion as he defeated Phil Davis (22-6) by the score of 48-47 on all three judges’ scorecards.

The champion was immediately thrown into the gauntlet as he went from winning his belt back in August to then putting his belt up for grabs as a part of the eight-man Grand Prix and drawing a rematch against Davis in the opening round. The champion Nemkov now turns his attention to the May 7 card as he’ll eventually face the winner of that night’s quarterfinal as former UFC standouts Yoel Romero and Anthony Johnson do battle for their respective Bellator debuts.

Nemkov improved to 2-0 against Davis Friday night at the Mohegan Sun as the two first went to battle in November of 2018 in Tel Aviv at Bellator 209, with Nemkov inching it out by split decision. This time around, it was the Russian fighting behind his jab which got him ahead early in the fight and was able to put the NCAA national champion Davis on his back three times in the bout. Nemkov had the clear advantage in the striking department throughout, with him getting out to three rounds to zero lead on the judges’ cards but the latter half of the fight is when we started to see the champion start to tire out and Davis was able to steal the last two rounds, but it was too late for Davis.

Another test was passed Friday for the champ as it was the first time the Fedor Emelianenko protégé saw the championship rounds, and now with that test behind him, he has time to recover and get his cardio corrected for the next match-up as both Romero and Johnson have fought in numerous five-round affairs.

Two fights in and two finishes for Corey Anderson in his Bellator run as he was able to secure his spot in the semifinals by beating promotional newcomer Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov via his patented ground and pound 2:15 into the third round. Corey ‘Overtime’ Anderson lived up to his name’s sake Friday night at the Mohegan Sun as it was his relentless pace and his supreme wrestling ability which ended up being too much for the smaller Yagshimuradov. It was a valiant effort in defeat for the former ACA champion in Yagshimuradov, who had some success in the striking in the first, able to wobble Anderson with a spinning heel kick in the first, but once Anderson was able to get him down was where he was able to close the show. Anderson with his win on Friday has now won five of his last six fights, with his only loss being to current UFC light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz. Next up in the semis for Corey Anderson will be an intriguing clash of styles as he faces Ryan Bader, another wrestler who also used a plethora of ground strikes in his decision victory last week against Lyoto Machida. The two now stand in each other’s way at a shot at the light heavyweight crown and a chance at a million-dollar payday.

Other Notables

Daley Beats Homasi in Two Round War

10 years to the week of Paul Daley’s one round war with Nick Diaz back in Strikeforce, we saw another quick-lasting slugfest, this time with Daley (43-17-2) coming out on top as he was able to finish Sabah Homasi (15-9) in the second round of their 175-pound catchweight bout. The two came out the gate throwing heavy leather as expected, as former Ultimate Fighter contestant Homasi was able to stun Daley with a flurry of punches and nearly had him finished in the first, but it looked like the aggression of Homasi wore on him as he looked visibly tired and allowed Daley to collect himself. It wasn’t until the second round when Daley was able to put his pressure on Homasi, as it was a bomb of a right hand from ‘Semtex’ Daley that was able to put away Sabah Homasi. Daley in his post-fight interview was able to put rumors of retirement to bed as he vowed to continue his career and after a performance like that, plus the bout being at a catchweight which made his weight cut easier who can blame him.

Bellator 257: A Family Affair

When Vadim Nemkov stepped into the Bellator cage for the main event, he did so with a chip on his shoulder as the champion saw his older brother Viktor lose earlier in the evening to Karl Albrektsson. Albrektsson was able to take the older Nemkov down nearly at will, leading to a 30-27 decision win on all three of the scorecards.

Alongside the Nemkov’s, the Gibson-Budd family was also on display inside the Bellator cage as stepmother Julia Budd and her stepson Lance Gibson Jr. were both victorious in their respective prelim match-ups Friday night at the Mohegan Sun. It was Gibson Jr. who got the victory party started for the family with both his father legendary Lance Gibson Sr and Budd in his corner as he improved to 4-0 in his young pro career defeating Marcus Surin. Gibson Jr. showed signs of growing up around the game as the prodigy showed his striking prowess, out landing the veteran Surin 89-34. Prelim main event saw stepmother, and current featherweight number one contender Julia Budd get in on the winning ways as she was able to inch out the debuting Dayana Silva by split decision. It was her second straight win since dropping her Bellator title to current champion Cris Cyborg back in January of 2020, but it wasn’t the most dominating performance in the process having many doubting if she will be next for the winner of the upcoming Cyborg-Smith scheduled for May 7. If it is not Budd on deck for the title fight winner, expect Cat Zingano to be up next who won last on last week’s card via first-round submission.

(Cover Photo: MMA Fighting)

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