Bellator Books Nemkov vs. Rumble, Bader vs. Anderson for Oct. 16 in Phoenix

Anthony Johnson (Rumble), Bellator 258
Anthony "Rumble" Johnson (right), Bellator 258 Credit: Bellator MMA

The Bellator light heavyweight grand prix will resume this October, as the promotion is heading to Phoenix, AZ for the next leg of the tournament.

On Saturday, promotion officials announced that the semifinals of the grand prix would be held on October 16, at the Footprint Center in Phoenix. The 205lb match-ups will see champion Vadim Nemkov defend his title against Anthony “Rumble” Johnson, while ex-champ Ryan Bader will be facing Corey Anderson.

No other fights have been announced for the card. However, that foursome alone should garner plenty of interest.

Nemkov (14-2) is currently riding an eight-fight win streak, and is undefeated in the promotion. In the opening round of the grand prix, the Russian light heavyweight successfully defended his title against former champ Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis. Nemkov now holds a pair of wins over Davis, while also claiming victories against Bader, Rafael Carvalho, ex-champ Liam McGeary, and others.

The Team Fedor fighter has not lost since back-to-back defeats under the RIZIN banner in 2015-16.

Johnson (23-6) returned to the cage in May, knocking out Jose Augusto in what was “Rumble’s” first fight in roughly four years. Johnson originally retired following UFC 210 in Buffalo, after losing his second title shot against Daniel Cormier. Johnson had originally been scheduled to face Yoel Romero in the opening round of the light heavyweight grand prix, but Romero did not receive medical clearance to fight.

Former 205lb champ Ryan Bader (28-6, 1NC), who is also Bellator’s current heavyweight champion, got the better of Lyoto Machida in the opening round of the grand prix, avenging a 2012 loss to “The Dragon” under the UFC banner. Bader’s only loss in Bellator came last year, when Vadim Nemkov finished him with a head kick to claim the light heavyweight title.

Corey Anderson (15-5) has won both his bouts in Bellator since joining the promotion last year. Anderson, who requested his release from the UFC in 2020, holds wins over Melvin Manhoef and Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov, with both victories coming by TKO.


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