Bellator MMA and Showtime held a media press conference on Feb. 9, 2021, to announce that the latter would be the new exclusive home of live fights starting Fri., April 2, 2021. In addition, Bellator President, Scott Coker, and the team revealed an eight-man Light Heavyweight tournament, including current champion Vadim Nemkov (12-2) and many of the top names on the roster.
It was no surprise to see Corey Anderson (14-5) on the list after he dominated mixed martial arts (MMA) legend “No Mercy” Melvin Manhoef (32-15-1, 2 NC) in his Bellator debut back in Nov. 2020. Anderson spoke to MMAmania.com during one-on-ones with the media about what that performance meant to getting in the “Elite Eight.”
“If I would have lost to Melvin, I’m sure they would have put him in the Light Heavyweight tournament over me, if the tournament were to happen either way. I’m a firm believer that in life things happen off of outcomes, so if I lost who knows? They might not have done the Light Heavyweight tournament.”
Anderson also believes his technical knockout win put him in the conversation to be a title contender for Nemkov, but that free agent signings by Bellator MMA made a title shot more difficult.
“The fact that me beating Melvin, and everybody saying ‘Corey should get Nemkov next,’ and then they signed Rumble (Johnson) and Yoel (Romero) and then it’s like ‘HE should get Nemkov next,’ and then Phil’s (Davis) name was in there, they figured the best way to settle this beef is put ‘em all in a tournament and whoever comes out is the champ.”
The tournament does put more obstacles in Anderson’s way to the title, including promotional newcomer Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov (18-5-1), but Anderson says he’s more than happy to run the gauntlet.
“I relish that. I’m a shine like a diamond baby. I compete to the level of my opponents. I’ve always had that problem. As a kid I could go against a guy who was trash, and go around and it’d be a super close match, and then go against the state champ and possibly end up beating him pretty bad or lose by one point or something. I feel (like) this tournament is just gonna be a whole bunch of state champions, national champions. You’ve got guys that were world title champs, and two time belt champs, and you got all these big names in one bracket. You just have to show up with your A game. I’m just excited. I’m just ready to go out there and just be the best me I can be for three fights, get this belt, and then just continue the rest of my career the same way.”
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