Phoenix, AZ — Light heavyweight champ Vadim Nemkov had roughly a month to prepare for his Bellator 268 opponent, Julius Anglickas.
Anglickas, a tournament alternate, stepped up to replace Anthony “Rumble” Johnson when illness forced the UFC alum out of the ongoing light heavyweight grand prix. But to hear the champ tell it, it wouldn’t have mattered either way.
“I found out about the opponent change about a month out. It didn’t really alter my training. My training is mostly geared towards me imposing my will, not necessarily who I’m preparing for,” Nemkov told media outlets including Cageside Press on Friday. “So it doesn’t matter to me. My plan is to win this fight, win this tournament, win a million dollars, and keep my belt.”
Ahead of the title fight atop the Bellator 268 card, Anglickas has suggested he might be a tougher fight than Johnson. Or at least that he has more ways to win.
“I don’t necessarily think that Julius is a harder opponent than Anthony Johnson,” the champ said in response. “Anthony Johnson has unorthodox striking, he comes at weird angles and he hits really hard, so he’s not someone you want to take lightly. He’s also great at wrestling, hard to take down.” And so Nemkov doesn’t believe Anglickas is necessarily a harder fight, “but at the end of the day, a fight’s a fight. The fight will show. I’ll tell you after the fight if it was hard or easy.”
Later this month, Bellator heads to Moscow, Russia, where Nemkov’s mentor, the legendary Fedor Emelianenko, will be fighting. With the event so close to Phoenix, Arizona’s Bellator 268, it was something of a surprise that the promotion didn’t book Nemkov for a homecoming fight.
Nemkov isn’t too down about the snub, however. “I wasn’t necessarily disappointed. I understand that this grand prix has a lot of attention in the U.S.,” he stated, adding that he would “love to, at some point in [my] career, fight in Moscow.”
Watch the full Bellator 268 media scrum with Vadim Nemkov above. The light heavyweight champ faces Julius Anglickas in the main event on Saturday night at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, AZ. Corey Anderson takes on Ryan Bader in the other light heavyweight grand prix semifinal.