Bellator 268 Report: Vadim Nemkov and Corey Anderson advance to Grand Prix Finals
By: Eric Marcotte
Bellator 268 took place on Saturday night, from the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. This event was headlined by the two semi-finals bouts from Bellator’s Light Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament, with the division’s champion, Vadim Nemkov, defending his title against Julius Anglickas, and Ryan Bader facing Corey Anderson. Anglickas was an alternate for the tournament, replacing Anthony Johnson after his withdrawal from the card last month. Additionally, this card featured a bout between two of Bellator’s top fighters in the lightweight division, with former Bellator Lightweight Champion, Brent Primus, taking on the former UFC Lightweight Champion, Benson Henderson. Commentary for this card was provided by the team of Sean Grande and John McCarthy. Jenn Brown and Josh Thompson were featured as the analytical team.
*Maria Henderson def. Collette Santiago by rear-naked choke at 0:40 of Round 1
*Sullivan Cauley def. Deon Clash by TKO at 4:59 of Round 1
*Jaylon Bates def. Raphael Montini by armbar at 3:49 of Round 1
*Lance Gibson Jr. def. Raymond Pina by TKO at 1:44 of Round 2
*Sumiko Inaba def. Randi Field by arm triangle at 2:02 of Round 2
*Javier Torres def. Gregory Milliard by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
*Nick Browne def. Bobby Lee by heel hook at 1:38 of Round 1
*Mukhamed Berkhamov def. Jaleel Willis by guillotine choke at 4:05 of Round 1
*Karl Albrektsson def. Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Henry Corrales def. Vladyslav Parubchenko by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Brent Primus def. Benson Henderson by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
*Corey Anderson def. Ryan Bader by TKO at 0:51 of Round 1
*Vadim Nemkov def. Julius Anglickas by kimura at 4:25 of Round 4 to retain the Bellator Light Heavyweight Championship
HENRY CORRALES (18-6, 145.6) VS VLADYSLAV PARUBCHENKO (7-2, 145.4) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Parubchenko quickly took Corrals to the ground, however, Corrales was able to avoid any significant damage, and returned to his feet inside of a minute. Corrales and Parubchenko exchanged uppercuts in the clinch, and Parubchenko landed a hard left before shooting for another takedown. Corrales defended the attempt, as the crowd chanted his name. Corrales stunned Parubchenko with a jab as Parubchenko was moving forward. Corrales ended the round with a solid right hand. 10-9 Corrales.
Corrales caught a leg kick and attempted to take the back of Parubchenko, but Parubchenko was able to roll to safety. Parubchenko went for a takedown of his own in response, to no success. The commentary team was speculating that there may have been something wrong with Parubchenko’s foot, as well as his mouthpiece. Regardless, this was a decent round for Corrales, who seemed to be comfortable on the feet against Parubchenko here. 20-18 Corrales.
Corrales knocked Parubchenko down with a lightning fast left hand and jumped into his guard as he attempted to finish the fight. Parubchenko was able to recover and escape to his feet, but he was definitely in need of a finish following that knockdown. Unfortunately for him, the momentum of the fight did not shift, and Corrales largely beat him down for the remainder of the round. 30-27 Corrales.
WINNER: Henry Corrales by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
Parubchenko had his moments early, but as the fight progressed, Corrales really began to take over. His striking looked crisp, and he was treated like a star from the Phoenix crowd here. Corrales has had an up and down run Bellator, and he has been on one of those downward trends since his loss to Darrion Caldwell in the opening round of the Featherweight Grand Prix, but this was a very good showcase of Corrales at his best. He is now 7-6 in Bellator MMA.
BENSON HENDERSON (28-10, 155.5) VS BRENT PRIMUS (10-2, 155.4) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Primus caught a leg kick and landed a right hook in the opening minute. Henderson caught him with a left hand as he moved forward, but Primus began to really go on the attack moments later, swarming Henderson with shots against the cage that Bendo was not taking well. The fight went to the ground, and Primus began to hunt for a kimura. Primus was close, but Henderson escaped before the round ended. 10-9 Primus.
Henderson was fighting fairly aggressively early in round two. They exchanged heavy shots, before Bendo defended a takedown attempt, and caught Primus with a few knees to the body. Primus succeeded on his next attempt to take Henderson down however and began to work from his back. He maintained this position for the remainder of the round but was unable to submit Henderson. 19-19 on my scorecard, although you could certainly give this one to Primus as well.
Henderson knocked Primus to the ground early in round three, however, Primus popped right back up. The fight returned to the ground, where both fighters attempted submissions before Primus ultimately took top position. Primus took Henderson’s back and maintained that position until the round ended. 29-28 Primus on my scorecard.
WINNER: Brent Primus by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
It was a competitive fight on the feet, but Primus was consistently able to control the action once it went to the ground, taking top position and threatening submissions. Henderson can still hang with high-level fighters, but his record has been fairly unimpressive since moving to Bellator, going 5-6 in the promotion thus far. Now on the first three-fight skid of his career, it’s tough to say what’s next for the former UFC Lightweight Champion, and he may finally be moving out of championship contention. Primus has had a bit of a roller coaster run since winning Bellator’s Lightweight Championship in 2017 as well, with only five fights, and an overall record of 3-2 since that win. Still, this was arguably the biggest win of Primus’s career thus far, and he called for a title shot in his post-fight interview, stating he would gladly fill in if one of the fighters pull out of the upcoming lightweight title bout between Patricky Pitbull and Peter Queally.
RYAN BADER (28-6, 1 NC, 204.1) VS COREY ANDERSON (7-2, 203.7) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT
Anderson knocked Bader down with a right hand just seconds into the round and swarmed him with strikes until the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Corey Anderson by TKO at 0:51 of Round 1
This was a huge win for Corey Anderson against an accomplished opponent in Ryan Bader. Anderson just caught Bader with a perfectly placed right hand and gave him absolutely no room to recover. Anderson has never been known as a finisher, but he has stopped all three of his Bellator opponents so far and seems to be fighting with a great deal of confidence. With this win, Anderson sealed his spot in Bellator’s Light Heavyweight Grand Prix finals, where he will challenge the winner of Vadim Nemkov and Julius Anglickas for the division’s championship. For Bader, he is still Bellator’s Heavyweight champion despite only winning one of his last four bouts. I imagine his next fight will be back at heavyweight, as that title has gone undefended since 2019.
VADIM NEMKOV (13-2, 204.7) VS JULIUS ANGLICKAS (10-1, 204) – BELLATOR LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Nemkov landed the first good shot of the bout, a clean right hand. Anglickas connected with a big right hand of his own, and Nemkov decided to take the fight to the ground in response. Anglickas eventually made it back to his feet, eating a sharp jab moments later. The strike count was massively in favor of Nemkov by the end of the round, leaving no doubts as to who took the opening five minutes. 10-9 Nemkov.
Nemkov was really pulling ahead in this fight in terms of activity and took Anglickas back down in the center of the cage. An unintentional clash of heads caused a cut above the right eye of Nemkov, but it did not seem to be bothering him much, at least at this point in the fight. Nemkov overwhelmed Anglickas with brutal ground and pound for the remainder of round two. 20-17 Nemkov.
Nemkov immediately took Anglickas back down to begin round three. He was looking for an armbar at one point, but he was unsuccessful and it resulted in Anglickas taking top position for a short-lived moment. Nemkov easily got back to his feet before dragging Anglickas back down to the ground. He went right back to that armbar, but once again, could not finish Anglickas. 30-26 Nemkov.
Once again, Nemkov wasted little time in taking Anglickas down to the ground. He just continued to beat Anglickas down, as the commentators discussed the possibility of Anglickas’s corner throwing in the towel. Nemkov eventually transitioned into a kimura, and Anglickas finally tapped out.
WINNER: Vadim Nemkov by kimura at 4:25 of Round 4 to retain the Bellator Light Heavyweight Championship
This was largely a beatdown. Anglickas tagged him with a heavy shot in the opening round, but that was the end of his highlight reel for this bout. Nemkov was clearly several steps ahead of his opponent here and cruised to a relatively easy victory. With this win, Nemkov has defended his title for the second time, and he will advance to the finals of Bellator’s Light Heavyweight Grand Prix, where he will meet Corey Anderson. I imagine Nemkov will be favored in that bout, but Anderson has looked strong enough throughout this Bellator run, that there will certainly be some intrigue going into that matchup.