Bellator 268: Movie Narratives Galore in Nemkov vs Anglickas Semifinal

Vadim Nemkov and Julius Anglickas, Bellator 268
Vadim Nemkov and Julius Anglickas, Bellator 268 ceremonial weigh-in Credit: Alex Behunin/Cageside Press

Bellator light heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov will look to continue his run as he faces dark horse contender Julius Anglickas in the semifinals of the Grand Prix at Bellator 268.

It is an unenviable task to be considered the heir apparent to arguably the most legendary and enigmatic champion of all-time in Fedor Emelianenko, but Vadim Nemkov handles it well.  Riding an eight fight win-streak, Nemkov claimed the light heavyweight title against his mentor’s former foe Ryan Bader and has already defended it against former champion Phil Davis to secure a spot in the latest Grand Prix semifinal.  Should he continue his run, it would set up his most high profile bout to date with a chance to secure the $1 million prize and add another high profile victory to his resume.

Such a victory would be the kind of foundation to build a solid legacy in his own right.  In the ever increasing digital age, he would be the biggest star in Bellator to come out of Russia at a time when the promotion is looking to build a presence in the country.  He also has arguably the best route to stardom as he now faces a lower regarded foe and could face an opponent he has already dominated once before in the final.  Considering the ever growing contingent of Russian stars in Bellator, being the face of the next wave could be enough to push him to the forefront of the casual fan’s consciousness.

Julius Anglickas has always been ready for this moment, and he has a familiar blueprint already in place to score an epic upset on Saturday night.  The 9-1 pro has been one of the most consistent performers on the regional scene and since he has been in the spotlight.  His first breakthrough came in 2019 where he picked up a victory on Dana White’s Contender Series.  He did not earn a contract that night, with UFC President Dana White expressing that he felt he simply wasn’t ready at the time.  Anglickas was soon signed to Bellator where he has picked up three more victories and was previously scheduled to face former Nemkov foe Karl Albrektsson on the undercard before getting the call to step into the main event.

Coming in as the more unheralded fighter against possibly the next big thing in Bellator, Anglickas is understandably the underdog.  But this entire scenario has played out once before under the watch of Scott Coker.  Ten years ago, an undefeated prospect by the name of Daniel Cormier stepped in as an alternate into the loaded field of the Strikeforce heavyweight Grand Prix and won the entire tournament to kick off the beginning of a Hall of Fame worthy run.  Entering the main event with solid experience and with high confidence, Anglickas is as poised as anyone to have his own breakout moment.

Both men have proven themselves to be competent well-rounded fighters, though Nemkov is expected to have the slight advantage in size and physicality.  His most efficient route to victory will be to push forward and keep Anglickas on his heels on the feet or to get the fight to the ground where he can test the challenger’s grappling off of his back.  Anglickas should work from mid-range, countering Nemkov and maintaining a high output.

The winner of the bout is scheduled to face the winner of the co-main event between Ryan Bader and Corey Anderson, likely early next year.  For Anglickas, it would be the grandest of cherries on top to win the whole tournament.  For Nemkov, it would be a testament to his work ethic to triumph in spite of opponent changes.