Arriving Thursday at Bellator 251, Corey Anderson’s debut in Bellator MMA may have been one of the promotion’s most anticipated coming out parties of the year. In an era absent Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier, Bellator’s light heavyweight division was suddenly more competitive than ever, in comparison to its biggest rival.
Anderson figured to be a big part of its future, a former contender in the UFC always given the cold shoulder in his old home, thanks to his wrestling-heavy style and lack of trash talking. Manhoef, of course, would look to spoil that.
As the fight itself got underway, Anderson went straight to beast mode. A big slam takedown punctuated the first minute of Anderson’s career inside the Belaltor cage. Melvin Manhoef tried to tie him up from the bottom, but he was in a bad spot, far away from the fence. Manhoef wound up covering up, eating several punches in the process. Anderson wound up in half guard, adding in an elbow or two, but while trying to pass, Manhoef escaped in a scramble. It wasn’t long, however, before Anderson changed levels, landed another takedown, and absolutely unloaded on Manhoef. The Dutch fighter managed to survive that barrage, and the round, but would need to stay on his feet moving forward.
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Manhoef opened round two with a kick, but it wasn’t long before Anderson trapped him by the fence and more or less muscled him to the floor. In a striker vs. wrestler battle, the wrestler was in full control. Once again in half-guard, Anderson went to work softening up the body. Some nasty elbows followed, and the ref took a good look. Paging Dr. Ortiz, Dr. Tito Ortiz. The elbows kept on coming. Manhoef was opened up. A couple of blows later, and Corey Anderson had a TKO win in his promotional debut.
Given Melvin Manhoef’s age and recent level of competition, Anderson by no means beat a world-beater. But he did exactly what he needed to do, win in dominant fashion. A title shot or another big match-up would not be surprising for his next outing.
Official Result: Corey Anderson def. Melvin Manhoef by TKO, Round 2, 2:34