Corey Anderson Had to Google Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix Opponent

Corey Anderson (14-5) is no different than the rest of us in one respect. The former UFC contender and current Bellator light heavyweight had to google his next opponent, just to know who Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov was.

The pair have been lined up in the opening round of Bellator’s newly announced light heavyweight grand prix. The 205lb tournament, unveiled Tuesday and set to get underway this April, features eight fighters: seven household names including Anderson, champ Vadim Nemkov, ex-champ Ryan Bader, ex-champ Phil Davis, former UFC champ Lyoto Machida, plus newly signed free agents Yoel Romero and Anthony “Rumble” Johnson.

And then there’s Yagshimuradov. The ACA light heavyweight champion is widely respected by MMA prospect watchers. But to most, he’s an unknown, having never fought in any major western or international promotion.

“I definitely had to go do a quick google [on Yagshimuradov],” Anderson told Cageside Press during a media session on Tuesday. “First of all, I had to make sure my manager spelled his name right. I thought he was butt dialing me, just sending a bunch of random letters.” Of course, when Anderson did look the 18-5-1 Turkmenistani fighter up, he quickly realized the ACA champ was for real. In more ways than one. “When I put it in, it actually came up, I was like ‘wait, this is a person’s name!’ After doing my research, it was like ‘okay, can’t look past this guy because I didn’t know him.’ This guy actually has a pretty good style, has a pretty good record, and he’s well-known where he’s from. Did my research, he’s a big name from where he’s from.”

“Just because we didn’t know him doesn’t mean anything,” Anderson added. “With that, I’m not looking past anybody.”

You’d have to expect that, after a one-sided beating of Melvin Manhoeff last year, Corey Anderson had hoped for a title shot right out of the gate. Anderson, after all, was Bellator’s big light heavyweight signing, until Romero and Johnson came along. That hasn’t happened. There’s no title shot for Anderson any time soon — Vadim Nemkov, rather, is on the opposite side of the grand prix bracket.

“You’re always hopeful for the title shot. That’s what we’re all here for. If you’re not here to be the best, I mean, why are you even here?” questioned Anderson. “If you’re here for a check, you should have left a long time ago, because that’s when injuries and stuff happen. I’m here to be the best, I’m here to be the belt.”

With that in mind, Anderson was excited, with his manager telling him that a title shot was possible. Then, the tournament talk popped up. “And I’m still excited,” added Anderson. Much like in his wrestling days, there’s no longer any question as to what comes next. “There’s no guessing around, who’s going to be the champ, who’s going to get there. You go out there and you do your job, you do your job for three fights, you are the champ. There’s no wondering, no debating who gets the title fight.”

After the tournament, of course, all that will change. “But right now, to get to that belt, it’s a direct path. You’ve got three fights to get there,” Anderson stated. And while it’s not the immediate shot, he’s just as happy with the possibilities in the grand prix. “I’m just excited, I’m just ready to go out there and be the best me I can be for three fights, get this belt, then continue the rest of my career the same way.”

Watch the full Bellator on Showcase media day session with Corey Anderson above.