For a brief minute, Corey Anderson thought he had reached the pinnacle of the sport and captured his first major world mixed martial arts (MMA) title at Bellator 277. With a few seconds remaining in round three of his title fight against Light Heavyweight champion, Vadim Nemkov, the fight was paused and subsequently called off because of a nasty cut Nemkov suffered above his right eye.
But, Anderson’s elation quickly spiraled downward after the fight was ruled a “No Contest” after replay showed the cut was caused by an inadvertent headbutt, something both Nemkov and Anderson acknowledged. As a result, Nemkov remained champion, and Anderson’s championship dreams were dashed, as was his $1 million payday.
Still, despite the unfortunate end to the title fight, Anderson feels he proved his worth and showed that not only is the best 205-pound fighter in Bellator, but in all of MMA.
“I am the best in the world, not just in Bellator, but the best,” Anderson said during a recent interview with MMA Fighting. “I went out there and showed it. I truly felt it and believed it, and now I really, really truly believe it. I expected that fight to be a tough one, but let’s be honest. I’m not going to say it was an easy fight, but at the same time, I made it look like I was the best.
“I made it look like I was the champion. I went out there and fought and did everything I was supposed to do,” he added. “Like I said, if you go out there and you’re still knocking me now, you’re just a hater.”
After Anderson left UFC and signed with Bellator in Aug. 2020, “Overtime” was very vocal about how he is now earning more money and getting more opportunities than ever before. Still, following his performance at Bellator 277, he has to wonder if his old boss, Dana White, regrets not showing him the love.
“In my head, I was like, ‘I wonder how Dana White feels now?’” Anderson said. “I wonder if he saw that fight. I wonder how he feels. Granted, he might not have seen it, but I just wondered does he regret letting me go? Does he regret they didn’t put that energy into promoting me like they did these other guys, now that they can see what I can do with a little love behind me, to feel like I actually belong somewhere. Like, they actually want me.
“I don’t miss the UFC, but I wonder if they ever look back and wonder,” Anderson concluded. “I wonder what if we actually put that promotion behind Corey, what could have happened? Now they see, the world sees, Corey is the best. You can’t knock it. You can’t say nothing about it.”
During Anderson's run with UFC, Jon Jones was the dominant champion, and earning a title fight against him proved to be troublesome because the division was stacked with talent. Anderson did get close, but his opportunity was derailed by Jan Blachowicz.
As for his goals of earning a Bellator belt, he will get another crack as he and Nemkov will run it back later this year and (hopefully) bring the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix to a close. A date and location for the rematch, however, have yet to be determined.
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