Bellator 244: Bader Looks to Add to Bellator Dominance Versus Nemkov

Ryan Bader and Vadim Nemkov, Bellator 244
Ryan Bader and Vadim Nemkov post following the Bellator 244 ceremonial weigh-in Credit: Bellator MMA

Two division Bellator champion Ryan Bader has faced virtually zero adversity in over a year, but Vadim Nemkov looks to announce himself in a big way at Bellator 244.

The performances speak for themselves.  Ryan Bader shocked both Fedor Emelianenko and Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal without taking a hit.  He outwrestled and dominated Cheick Kongo and Matt Mitrione with ease.  Against some of the biggest and best athletes Bellator has to offer, Bader has taken virtually zero damage in his last four fights.  In just a year, he has made a case as arguably the best fighter that is currently on Bellator’s roster and is showing no signs of slowing down as he has claimed both the heavyweight and light heavyweight titles. Only an eye poke in the Kongo fight, leading to a No Contest, has prevented him from defending both.

It would seem that the biggest challenge to Bader, dangerously so, isn’t Nemkov.  It is complacency.  He has torn through the previously established guard in two weight classes.  By all accounts, he has already triumphed in the biggest fights to be currently won in the promotion.  New challenges from Corey Anderson and Gegard Mousasi may lie in the future, but right now Bader has the challenge of looking like the same world-beater that tore through the Heavyweight Grand Prix against a lesser known opponent.

28 year old Vadim Nemkov is looking to establish himself as the next elite fighter to hail from Russia as he takes on the more well-known champion.  Coming from the same hometown as his legendary teammate Fedor Emelianenko, Nemkov has accumulated an 11-2 record in a career that has seen him compete in both Bellator and RIZIN.  Though new to western audiences, he has built himself up as one of the top prospects in his home country through events such as Fight Nights Global that saw him compete on the same cards as Emelianenko and fellow Russian contenders Vitaly Minakov and Sergei Pavlovich.

Riding a two fight win-streak going into his Bellator debut, Nemkov was given no favors in his introduction to the promotion.  Of his four fights in the company, three have been against former champions in Liam McGeary, Phil Davis, and Rafael Carvalho.  While Bader was preoccupied in the land of giants, Nemkov established himself as a new threat in stopping all but one of his Bellator opponents and enticing the current champion to return to the division for the first time in over two years.

Stylistically, the versatile Nemkov will be looking to outwork Bader with his multi-faceted attack.  Not afraid to mix both punches and kicks and look for takedowns, a Nemkov upset will depend on high volume and sharp footwork that will make it difficult for Bader to set up his offense.  Bader should look to use a sharp jab to keep Nemkov at bay and change levels for a takedown where his elite wrestling figures to pose the most problems for Nemkov.

A victory for Nemkov will likely set up either an immediate rematch with Bader or a fight against the winner Lyoto Machida versus Phil Davis in September.  A victory for Bader could set up a variety of scenarios with a fight against the Machida vs Davis Winner or a fight with promotional newcomer Corey Anderson being possible.  Should he elect to move back up, a fight with former champion Vitaly Minakov or a rematch with Cheick Kongo could be options.