Julius Anglickas’ life has become a bit of a whirlwind ahead of Bellator 268.
Anglickas (10-1) was given the nod as the tournament alternate for Bellator’s light heavyweight grand prix earlier this year. As fate would have it, Anthony “Rumble” Johnson was forced out of the tournament due to an undisclosed illness — meaning it’s Anglickas fighting Vadim Nemkov for gold this weekend.
Describing the emotional response, Anglickas told Cageside Press in a recent interview that “It’s been a lot. But it’s good. I’ve been trying to enjoy as much as I can of it.” At times, he admitted, “it gets a little overwhelming, especially a week before you have to travel. Interviews, media, physicals, this and that, you have to run around to make sure everything is in order. But that’s part of the job, I’m sure [Nemkov] has to do the same thing.”
And not surprisingly, one perk makes it all worth it. “I’m definitely fighting for the belt so all these extra things, I’m okay to do all that if I get to fight for the belt. I’m definitely excited, happy, nervous, scared, all of these above, but ready as well.”
Anglickas had the benefit of being forewarned about the title opportunity. While the announcement of Rumble’s withdrawal came as a shock to many, the promotion had already been in touch well in advance.
“We knew before they even announced it. I was supposed to fight Karl [Albrektsson], they called me like ‘hey, little update, Anthony’s not doing so well, you might have to step into replace him.'” A week later, Bellator sent over the contract for the title fight. “I think it was slowly warming me up, to make it official. It’s like I knew it, but it wasn’t definite, we were just kind of waiting for them to make it definite.”
Anglickas didn’t expect to be in the title picture until at least a few more fights, mind you. He knows this is a bit sudden, but as he put it, “life gives you lemons, you’ve got to make lemonade. That’s all it is.” He knows there will be people who deem him undeserving, or claim the title shot has come too fast. But, he added, “the stars have aligned for me, so I’m just going to try to take advantage of it.”
Then there’s the comparisons to Daniel Cormier, a tournament alternate in the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix a decade ago, who went on to win the heavyweight title there, then claim two belts in the UFC. Anglickas welcomes those comparisons.
“It’s definitely something to talk about. I try not to focus on it, I just try to focus on the fight. I do like that there’s discussion about it. And all of it is within good taste, it’s all with the support, and it’s awesome,” said Anglickas. “There’s no other way to describe it, just it’s awesome.”
Watch our full interview with Bellator 268 headliner Julius Anglickas above. Anglickas faces Vadim Nemkov this Saturday, October 16 at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, AZ.