Bellator 257: “Nemkov vs Davis 2” comes to Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., tomorrow evening (Fri., Apr. 16, 2021) — airing on Showtime — for its third show in as many weeks. The Light Heavyweight Grand Prix kicks continues on with two stellar fights. In the main event, 205-pound champion Vadim Nemkov will rematch Phil Davis after barely edging him out two years ago. In the co-main event, Corey Anderson will face off against Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov.
205 lbs.: Vadim Nemkov (13-2) vs. Phil Davis (22-5, 1 NC)
Nemkov and Davis took part in a highly-competitive bout at Bellator 209 in Nov. 2018, which ultimately saw Nemkov walk away with a razor-thin split-decision win in Tel Aviv, Israel. A couple of wins over Rafael Carvalho and Ryan Bader later, Nemkov was the Bellator MMA Light Heavyweight champion. Undefeated for the promotion (5-0), Nemkov is currently riding a seven fight win streak and hasn’t tasted defeat in nearly five years, proving that the promotion has itself a legit contender who, oh by the way, is one of Fedor Emelianenko’s protégés in sambo. In short: Nemkov has it all and it is going to take a gargantuan effort to knock him off his pedestal. The No. 2 ranked pound-for-pound best fighter on Bellator’s roster has the tools and resume to become a big star for Scott Coker and Co., and winning the Grand Prix is a good way to get there.
Standing in his way is Davis (again), who looks to collect his fourth straight win and get some revenge on the Russian-born champion. With such a close bout in their first encounter, there probably isn’t much else Davis could have done right in the first outing short of getting a finish ... but that’s obvious. Trying to score the knockout or submission will be tough against Nemkov because he has yet to suffer such a defeat in his career. Three of “Mr. Wonderful’s” last four wins have come by way of stoppage, so he has the tool kit to get it done.
I just don’t see it happening.
While Davis can hang with Nemkov in the wrestling department, I feel the champ will be too much for Davis this time around and will ultimately score a finish on his way to advancing to the next round and closer to a $1 million payout.
Final Prediction: Vadim Nemkov via third round technical knockout
205 lbs.: Corey Anderson (14-5) vs. Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov (18-5-1)
Anderson made a splash in his Bellator MMA debut in Nov. 2020, knocking out heavy-handed Melvin Manhoef in the second round at Bellator 251. He left UFC on a 4-1 run with his lone loss coming to current Light Heavyweight champion, Jan Blachowicz. That said, UFC’s loss is only Bellator’s big gain. Anderson is still in the prime of his fighting career and has a good chance to make it deep into the Grand Prix. While not much is known about Yagshimuradov since the fight will mark his Bellator and stateside debut, he is on a highly-impressive eight-fight win steak, six of them by stoppage. Anderson vowed not to take the newcomer lightly and it’s a good idea because while he may be the dark horse of the tournament, he could very well surprise us all. I just don’t see it happening, though. Anderson is too skilled everywhere and will have a distinct reach advantage come fight night. If he puts it all together, I see him advancing to face Bader in the semifinals.
Final prediction: Anderson via unanimous decision
125 lbs.: Veta Arteaga (5-4) vs. Desiree Yanez (5-2)
I’ll be honest, I was completely surprised to see this bout on the main card. Arteaga — ranked No. 7 — has lost two in a row and Yanes is coming off a loss to Melissa Martinez under the Combate Americas banner and is making her Bellator debut. Meanwhile, you have well-known names such as Pedro Carvalho and Julia Budd fighting on the undercard. Call me crazy, but I wouldn’t have given this fight such a high ranking on this card. That said, deserving or not they did get a good spot on the main card — which will air on SHOWTIME — so they are determined to make the most of it. Arteaga has a bit more experience on the big stage and overall has a more polished arsenal. The confidence she has due to eight fights inside the Bellator cage will show and prove to be a big help in taking on a fighter who made her pro MMA debut just a little more than two years ago. She will simply be too much for the Bellator rookie.
Final prediction: Arteaga via unanimous decision
175 lbs.: Paul Daley (42-17-2) vs. Sabah Homasi (15-8-0)
After dropping back-to-back fights to Jon Fitch and Michael Page, Daley has turned it around by winning two in a row against Erick Silva and Saad Awad. Daley was set to face Homasi in March 2020, but the fight was canceled after the COVID-19 pandemic took off. That means that Daley will be coming off an 18-month layoff, while Homasi last competed in Oct. 2020, defeating Bobby Voelker via knockout at Bellator 250. The win was Homasi’s fourth straight — third under the Bellator banner — after going winless (0-3) in his three fights inside UFC’s Octagon. It’s no secret “Semtex” will try to keep the fight standing, and with good reason because he is still one of the hardest-hitting, 170-pound fighters in the game and if he connects cleanly it’s usually lights out. Homasi is no slouch in the striking department but going toe-to-toe with Daley probably isn’t the best approach coming into the bout. If he wants to score his fifth straight win, he must take the fight to the ground where “Semtex” has proven to be vulnerable. He doesn’t have the best wrestling or jiu-jitsu. In fact, in his 61 pro fights Daley has never managed to win a fight via submission, though he has been forced to tap on six occasions. There should be no secret as to what each man will want to do from the opening bell. While Homasi does have nine wins via (technical) knockout, he hasn’t exactly faced a striking specialist such as “Semtex.”
Final prediction: Daley via second round knockout
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