Vadim Nemkov proved that he is amongst the elite in the light heavyweight MMA spectrum with victory over Bellator champ-champ Ryan Bader
A star was born at Bellator 244, or at least rubber-stamped, when Vadim Nemkov proved beyond any doubt that he lives amongst the elite within the mixed martial arts’ light heavyweight spectrum when he dealt magnificently with champion Ryan Bader over two impressive rounds at Mohegan Sun, Conn.
This was the fourth world champion the 28-year-old Russian has now defeated in his run in Bellator, but he deserves high praise for the manner of the victory over the American, who still holds on to the heavyweight title, having won the Grand Prix Tournament last year.
To the obvious delight of Nemkov’s mentor Fedor Emelianenko – who lost in the heavyweight final last year to Bader – the young fighter held his ground in the largely stand-up first round, clearly a match for Bader, while letting the champion know that his famed leg kicks are brutal.
Nemkov edged the first round, for me, with stress already etched on the face of the champion. It was never going to be an easy task for Bader stepping back down to 205 and shedding the pounds from heavyweight after almost three years, at the age of 37.
But it was the decisiveness of the second round denouement that will put Nemkov on a returning highlight reel. The fighter from Stary Oskol, the same town as the great Fedor, landed a beautifully timed head kick, and then set about his adversary, pounding his rival to defeat having felled him again. It has to be said that referee Kerry Hatley let the fight go on, even though Bader was attempting to wriggle out of the sustained assault from Nemkov.
“When I was training for this fight, I was actually mentally preparing for the history of being the first Russian to fight for a major 205-pound title. I feel like I made history,” Nemkov proclaimed in the post-fight interviews.
“With all the changes going on in the 205-pound division and the calibre of opponent I just beat, I feel like I’m No. 1 right now,” Nemkov added.
“To back up why I’m saying this, I didn’t just go through five rounds of a fight. I finished a top, top contender in decisive manner in two rounds. I feel like I’m No. 1.”
Nemkov may face the winner of Lyoto Machida vs. Phil Davis II, or even newly-signed Corey Anderson, in a first defence of the title. The Machida-Davis pairing will meet at the Mohegan Sun Resort on Friday, September 11.
“The situation is a little unclear right now,” Nemkov said. “Machida is fighting Phil Davis, so I’d say probably the winner of that fight will be my first title defence. I know Corey Anderson just signed, but I feel like it’d be wrong for him to get a title shot coming over from the UFC. I feel like he should probably have a fight before that. But I’ll fight whoever they put in front of me.”
Bellator 244: Bader vs. Nemkov Main Card:
Vadim Nemkov (13-2) defeated Ryan Bader (27-6, 1 NC) via TKO (strikes) at 3:03 of round two
Julia Budd (14-3) defeated Jessy Miele (9-4) via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
Valentin Moldavsky (10-1) defeated Roy Nelson (23-20) via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
John Salter (18-4) defeated Andrew Kapel (15-7) via submission (arm triangle) at 3:11 of round three
Yaroslav Amosov (24-0) defeated Mark Lemminger (1 1-2) via TKO (doctors stoppage) at 5:00 Rd 1
Sidney Outlaw (15-4) defeated Adam Piccolotti (12-4) via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Joshua Hill (20-3) defeated Erik Perez (19-8) via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)
Weber Almeida (4-0) defeated Salim Mukhidinov (7-5) via knockout (punches) at 3:57 Rd 1
John de Jesus (13-8) defeated Vladyslav Parubchenko (16-2) via UD (29-28, 30-27, 29-28)
Chris Gonzalez (5-0) defeated Vladimir Tokov (7-1) via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
Lucas Brennan (3-0) defeated Will Smith (3-2) via TKO (punches) at 4:14 of round two