Though there stays plenty of unknowns coming into the principle occasion of Saturday’s Bellator 268 card pairing gentle heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov towards late substitute Julius Anglickas within the semifinals of the World Grand Prix match, the co-main occasion may be the sneakiest battle on the cardboard from the standpoint of intrigue.
Former 205-pound champion and present heavyweight king Ryan Bader (28-6, 1 NC) continues his journey to regain his title when he enters as a slight underdog towards red-hot fellow UFC veteran Corey Anderson. The winner advances to the match closing and an opportunity at each the Bellator gentle heavyweight title and the $1 million prize.
An excessive amount of the construct towards Anderson’s third go to to the Bellator cage since signing as a free agent in 2020 surrounds the repeated feedback “Extra time” has made about beforehand dominating Bader in sparring periods. Anderson has commonly closed matters on their historical past by uttering the cryptic phrase, “Bader and his staff know what occurred.”
So what precisely did occur? Bader, who joined “Morning Kombat” on Thursday to preview the battle, believes Anderson broke the unwritten fighter code of trying to placed on blast what occurred behind closed doorways.
“So I introduced him in twice after I fought Phil Davis [in 2015 and 2017],” Bader mentioned. “The primary time he could not even prepare as a result of he obtained kicked within the eye and I break up his eye open. He retains speaking about this different coaching session and I am in the midst of rattling camp and canine drained. We went forwards and backwards in sparring. What? I do know [what happened] since you may need gotten a takedown in sparring?
“I do not know what he’s holding onto there. I get my ass whooped on a regular basis in sparring, by all people. I am a gamer and I present up when it is recreation time. We’re not speaking about observe right here.”
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Bader, 38, might solely chuckle as he echoed the cadence from the notorious press convention by former NBA All-Star Allen Iverson. However recent off a dominant resolution win over Lyoto Machida within the Grand Prix quarterfinals to avenge his UFC loss to “The Dragon,” Bader believes Anderson is merely attempting to construct up his personal confidence coming into this significant match bout.
“It is simply humorous that he’s holding onto that,” Bader mentioned. “That was 5 or 6 years in the past. If he thinks he’s combating that man who was at coaching and at observe, he will have an excessive impolite awakening when the precise battle comes round.”
Anderson (15-5) enters this weekend having gained six of his final seven fights total. The 32-year-old’s solely defeat got here by first-round knockout to present UFC gentle heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz throughout Anderson’s closing battle within the Octagon. His Bellator begin has been electrical because of a second-round TKO of veteran Melvin Manhoef and a third-round end of Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov within the Grand Prix quarterfinals.
“[Anderson] does effectively at quantity. He is at all times in nice form. He will get after these guys that basically cannot wrestle and drags them into deep waters,” Bader mentioned. “My wrestling is superior however I really feel like my MMA wrestling is rather a lot higher. He’s a kind of guys who sort of pushes you on the cage and takes lengthy photographs the place I’m the man that may blow you off of your toes.
“You bought to fret in regards to the takedown and it’s important to fear about him being on prime of you, he has good floor and pound. However I am not going to take a seat and let him mount me and drop elbows on me. I’ve been on this recreation a very long time. I’ve energy in each palms and he has been knocked out rather a lot.
“I put my heavy energy from each palms into it and he will get knocked out.”
The principle occasion will see Nemkov (14-2) search for the second protection of the title he gained by stopping Bader within the second spherical final 12 months at Bellator 244. Nemkov then had his personal rematch towards Phil Davis to open the match and took dwelling a aggressive resolution win.
Anglickas (10-1), a 30-year-old from Lithuania, was upgraded from match alternate standing after Anthony “Rumble” Johnson pulled out of his title shot towards Nemkov resulting from an undisclosed sickness. Anglickas has gained 10 straight fights together with all three beneath the Bellator banner and a victory on the Dana White Contender Sequence that did not carry a UFC contract.
Elsewhere on the cardboard, former WEC and UFC light-weight champion Benson Henderson is again when he takes on former Bellator light-weight champion Brent Primus. Henderson, 37, enters on a two-fight shedding streak that included a short transfer as much as 170 kilos. These losses ended a four-fight win streak. Primus, in the meantime, is coming off a break up resolution loss in July as he appears to be like to bounce again to his outdated type close to the highest of the 155-pound division. Six of his 10 profession wins have come through submission.
Plus, former bantamweight stalwart Henry Corrales is again in a featherweight contest towards Vladyslav Parubchenko. Corrales has been a mainstay on the Bellator roster since 2015, the place he started his profession on a three-fight shedding skid to a few of the finest within the promotion (Daniel Strauss, Emmanuel Sanchez and Patiricio Pitbull). He bounced again with a five-fight win streak that just about obtained him into title rivalry in 2019. However now, Corrales has dropped three of 4 and has moved as much as 145 kilos in hopes of higher outcomes. Parubchenko is making his second look within the Bellator cage after shedding his debut in August by resolution.
Struggle card, odds
Odds through Caesars Sportsbook
- Vadim Nemkov (c) (14-2) -550 vs. Julius Anglickas (10-1) +400 — Mild Heavyweight Grand Prix semifinal
- Corey Anderson (15-5) -180 vs. Ryan Bader (28-6, 1 NC) +155 — Mild Heavyweight Grand Prix semifinal
- Benson Henderson (28-10) -120 vs. Brent Primus (10-2) +100 — Lightweights
- Henry Corrales (18-6) -120 vs. Vladyslav Parubchenko (16-2) +100 — Featherweights
- Karl Albrektsson (12-3) -180 vs. Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov (18-6-1) +155 — Mild heavyweights
- Sullivan Cauley (1-0) -380 vs. Deon Conflict (1-0) +300 — Mild heavyweights
- Nick Browne (11-1) -330 vs. Bobby Lee (12-6) +260 — Lightweights
- Gregory Milliard (12-6) -115 vs. Javier Torres (11-5, 1 NC) -105 — Middleweights
- Sumiko Inaba (2-0) -440 vs. Randi Area (2-0) +340 — Girls’s flyweights
- Lance Gibson Jr. (4-0) -450 vs. Raymond Pina (9-4) +350 — Lightweights
- Jaylon Bates (3-0) -650 vs. Raphael Montini (6-4, 1 NC) +475 — Bantamweights
- Mukhamed Berkhamov (14-1) -175 vs. Jaleel Willis (15-2) +150 — Welterweights
Whereas Anglickas definitely brings a component of the unknown to the match as a last-minute wild card, it is arduous to think about he may have the identical success Daniel Cormier as soon as did as an unknown substitute within the Strikeforce Heavyweight World Grand Prix practically a decade in the past.
Anglickas is stable but unspectacular. Nemkov, a 29-year-old native of Russia, ought to have his means controlling Anglickas on the bottom whereas slowly sporting him down with strikes in one other systematic efficiency.
The co-main occasion seems way more large open. Due to the wrestling prowess of each, it is easy to imagine this one turns into extra of a kickboxing match. The issue for Anderson on this equation is that he isn’t the identical fighter within the standup because the highly effective Bader.
Search for Anderson to work arduous in slowing this battle down and committing to a prolonged pursuit of takedowns. Ought to he show unsuccessful, it might be a protracted evening, particularly if Bader is ready to combine in sufficient of a risk for his personal prime recreation to additional open up alternatives to land on the toes.
Picks: Nemkov through TKO3; Bader through UD
https://www.cbssports.com/mma/information/bellator-268-predictions-light-heavyweight-world-grand-prix-semifinals-fight-card-start-time-odds-preview/ | Bellator 268 predictions: Mild Heavyweight World Grand Prix semifinals battle card, begin time, odds, preview