If ever there was an unknown fighter ahead of a major fight, it was Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov. The light heavyweight from Turkmenistan was virtually unheard of among western MMA fans at least, prior to being booked against Corey Anderson in the opening round of the Bellator light heavyweight grand prix. That fight arrived Friday night at Bellator 257, and brought a rather large curiosity factor with it.
When Anderson vs. Yagshimuradov got underway, it was the newcomer striking first with a lead uppercut. He targeted the lead leg of Anderson; Anderson answered with a leg kick of his own. The right hand of Yagshimuradov stayed cocked, an ever present threat. When he did throw it, Yagshimuradov was putting everything he had into that right hand. After fanning on it, however, he found himself fending off an Anderson takedown attempt. That takedown defense proved up to the job, and the light heavyweight pair re-engaged back at center. Anderson began working his hands, trailing his jab with a right cross. He’d also just miss with a high kick.
Round two saw Anderson work to tie his opponent up against the fence. That gave way to a battle for head position, and to Anderson looking to sweep a leg out from under his opponent. Once again, however, Yagshimuradov’s takedown defense proved worthy. They’d move back to center, with Anderson looking solid on the feet, even landing a sharp kick to the body — but he would at long last get the takedown in the final minute in the round, going straight to mount. That allowed Anderson to land some smashing elbows in the final seconds of the frame, finishing the round strong.
Anderson started round three strong, getting his hands going and backing Yagshimuradov up against the fence. With Yagshimuradov worrying about the stand-up attack, it was much easier for Anderson to change levels and get the fight to the ground. From there, Anderson moved into half-guard, landing punches any time he could find an opening. Anderson wound up controlling from the back, then managed to mount, absolutely unloading with lefts and rights. That saw Yagshimuradov give up his back in response, then roll to his back again, opening himself up to more ground n’ pound. The ref had soon seen enough, waving it off.
With the TKO win, Corey Anderson earned his second straight victory in Bellator MMA, and a date in the light heavyweight grand prix semifinals with Ryan Bader.
Official Result: Corey Anderson def. Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov by TKO, Round 3, 2:15