Bellator 268: “Nemkov vs Anglickas” is set to air Saturday night (Oct. 16, 2021) from inside Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona, which will be headlined by a light heavyweight title fight between Vadim Nemkov and Julius Anglickas. Co-headlining the event will be Ryan Bader taking on Corey Anderson. The winner of the two bouts will meet in the promotion’s Light Heavyweight Grand Prix finale, which will not only crown the champion, but also award him a nice $1 million paycheck.
205 lbs.: Champion Vadim Nemkov vs. Julius Anglickas
Nemkov was initially set to tango with Anthony Johnson in a highly-anticipated title fight that would’ve been one for the ages. But after “Rumble” abruptly withdrew from the event due to medical reasons, the promotion gave Anglickas the opportunity of a lifetime.
Since stepping foot inside the Bellator cage for the first time in 2017, Nemkov has been on an absolute tear, winning all six of his fights for the promotion against the best-of-the-best. After defeating Phil Davis and Rafael Carvalho in back-to-back fights, Nemkov earned the right to face then-champion Ryan Bader, ultimately defeating him via second-round knockout to win the 205-pound title. He then defended the strap against Davis, defeating him more time in the opening round of the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix. Now, the Fedor Emelianenko protégé will attempt to win his ninth straight fight and put a cherry on top of his impressive run by retaining his title and earn a trip to the $1 million finale.
Anglickas, meanwhile, is currently the No. 5 ranked 205-pound fighter on Bellator’s roster after earning three straight wins for the promotion. Going back a bit further, Anglickas is riding a highly impressive nine-fight win streak and has only tasted defeat once in his pro MMA career. He was last seen defeating Gregory Milliard at Bellator 257 a few months ago and is now ready to shock the combat world. His opportunity reminds me of Daniel Cormier getting his chance in the Strikforce Heavyweight Grand Prix as an alternate back in 2011. Cormier went on to win the tournament by knocking out Antonio Silva in the semifinals before besting Josh Barnett in the finals. From there, Cormier’s career took off and the rest, as they say, is history.
While that was a great Cinderella story for “D.C,” I just don’t see a repeat happening this time around. Anglickas definitely has a puncher’s chance, but outside of that Nemkov has him covered in all facets of the fight game, especially the strength and grappling department. I see a tentative start from both men but once the champion gets his feet under him and starts to break a little sweat, he will take over and dominate the fight to retain his title and secure his spot in the finale.
Prediction: Nemkov via third round TKO
205 lbs.: Ryan Bader vs. Corey Anderson
Bader and Anderson know each other very well since they spent plenty of timing training with one another in the past. The former UFC light heavyweight contenders left the organization in hopes of greener pastures with Bellator, and so far it has proven to be a great decision for each of them. Bader has enjoyed immense success so far, winning both the heavyweight and light heavyweight titles, enjoying a short stint as the promotion’s “champ-champ” before coughing up his 205-pound strap to Nemkov. That is “Darth’s” lone loss in the last six years and he still holds the 265-pound title, which he will defend once he wraps things up in the tournament.
Anderson, meanwhile, made the jump to Bellator in 2020 and has only competed twice so far, collecting back-to-back wins against Melvin Manhoef and Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov. During that time, Anderson claims that he made more bank than he did in seven years with UFC. Now, Anderson can add a few more bills to his account if he can win the Grand Prix. Before he gets a chance to fight for the big cash, he needs to get through Bader, a tough task to say the least. It’s a 50/50 fight for me. Both men have a bevy of experience, can strike and are outstanding wrestlers. That said, when it comes to the mat I have to give Bader and his NCAA Division 1 credential the advantage. That’s not to say Anderson is a slouch in that department — he was an NCAA Division II standout — but Bader is just a tad bit more polished. This will be a grueling battle that will go the distance. In the end, Bader will do just enough to squeak out a close decision.
Prediction: Bader via split decision
155 lbs.: Benson Henderson vs. Brent Primus
Henderson has a lot to prove coming into this fight. And it’s not just for the fact that he’s on a two-fight losing streak, but because of the comments he recently made about being passed over to be one-half of the duo fighting for the vacant lightweight title. He is currently ranked at No. 3, so he has a case there, and one of his two previous defeats came in the Welterweight division, going 4-1 overall in his last five fights at 155 pounds. Now, “Smooth” is out to make a statement against another ex-champion in Primus.
Primus was last seen losing a razor-thin split decision to Islam Mamedov at Bellator 263, slowing down his momentum and snapping his twp fight win streak. Like Henderson, I’m sure Primus would love nothing more than to get back to a title fight and taking out “Smooth” is a big step in that quest. He will have a lot more ground to make up because he isn’t ranked at the moment, but that will surely change if he gets a win. It’s a pretty even match up all the way around but Primus has been more active than Henderson, who will be fighting for the first time in a year. It’s not to say Henderson hasn’t been to the gym in that time. This fight will go the distance and will be one of those gritty bouts that could steal the show.
Prediction: Primus via split decision
145 lbs.: Henry Corrales vs. Vladyslav Parubchenko
Kicking off the main card will be a Featherweight scrap between Corrales and Parubchenko which could provide fireworks. Corrales has really struggled as of late by losing three of his last four including his most recent loss to Johnny Campbell earlier this year. He does have big wins over Aaron Pico and Georgi Karakhanyan, but as far as “what have you done for me lately,” well there isn’t much to speak of there. He has a chance to turn things around against Parubhcneko, who threw up a dud in his Bellator debut after coming up short against John de Jesus over a year ago. Prior to that, he was on an eight-fight win streak and had won 15 of his last 16 fights. Parubchenko has the skills, obviously, but Corrales has faced the cream of the crop in Bellator's 145-pound division including former champion Patricio Freire and Daniel Straus, as well as former two-time title contender, Emmanuel Sanchez. When it comes to getting things done, both men just know how to do it once the cage door slams shut. Of Parubchenko’s 15 wins, only one has gone the distance, earning 11 submissions to go along with four knockout wins, so it’s easy to see what his go-to attack is. Corrales, meanwhile, has seven knockouts and five submissions to his credit. I’ll give Parubchenko the advantage on the ground if it goes there, but Corrales is a powerful 145-pounder that can clean your clock in the blink of an eye. I just don’t see it happening this time around.
Prediction: Parubchenko via third round submission
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