With a lot of eyes on him Thursday night at Bellator 251, Corey Anderson did exactly what he needed to do in his promotional debut. Lined up against an aging Melvin Manhoef, Anderson relied on his wrestling, primarily his powerful takedowns, and when the time came, unleashed some nasty ground n’ pound to put Manhoef away.
The match-up may have been a favorable one. Manhoef may be in the twilight of his career. But Anderson (14-5) performed exactly as expected, and likely did enough to lock up a title shot in the process. Although, as Anderson himself noted, Vadium Nemkov vs. Phil Davis looks to be next.
After proving that “I’m still here and I’m kicking, baby,” Anderson said post-fight that the title fight pair are exactly what he wants moving forward. “Phil Davis and Nemkov. The two fighting for the belt.”
“I want the winner. There’s no reason I shouldn’t get it,” Anderson told media outlets including Cageside Press following Bellator 251. “[Ryan] Bader’s going to heavyweight to defend his belt. If he was staying at 205, I would fight him. But he’s gone. Lyoto [Machida] just lost, why would I fight a loser? I want somebody winning.”
Asked who he expected to come out victorious in the Nemkov vs. Davis rematch, Anderson replied that “we already seen Nemkov beat him once. I think he just got better. He’s going to do the same thing. So technically I want Nemkov. But if Phil wins, I want Phil. I want the belt. I want that belt on my wall. I’ve been dreaming about it. I want the belt over my TV, when I wake up in the morning, every day, I’ll see it. ‘I did that.’ That’s what I need.”
Anderson’s tumultuous run with the UFC has been well-documented. But when it comes to having a moment of catharsis, and moving on, Anderson wasn’t feeling the way you might expect at Bellator 251. The biggest issue for “Overtime” was the pressure he put on himself after being finished in both of his prior main event fights.
“The only pressure was on myself after getting knocked out in the main event,” Anderson told Cageside Press. “I had two main events, and I got knocked out in the first round of both. I had to make that wrong right.”
He did just that on Thursday.
Watch the full Bellator 251 post-fight press scrum with Corey Anderson above.