Phoenix, AZ — Bellator’s light heavyweight grand prix resumed on Saturday, and the final is now set.
Bellator 268 saw Corey Anderson decimate Ryan Bader, while 205lb champ Vadim Nemkov overcame an early scare to submit tournament alternate Julius Anglickas late in their fight. It will be Nemkov vs. Anderson in the final — a fight that could decide who the best light heavyweight on the planet is.
There will be those who immediately react to that claim by yelling “UFC.” But as was pointed out to Bellator President Scott Coker following Saturday’s event, Anderson holds a win over upcoming UFC light heavyweight title challenger Glover Teixeira. He’s 1-1 in his career series with UFC champ Jan Blachowicz.
Which has Coker once again on board with the idea that the grand prix winner will be the true best light heavyweight in the world.
“Absolutely. This is a gauntlet of 205’ers, and whoever wins this tournament is the best 205’er on the planet,” Coker told media outlets including Cageside Press in Phoenix on Saturday. “That’s how I feel.”
Bellator’s chief also spoke on the final two combatants in the grand prix.
“The finals that we have now really is a fight that I thought, ‘this could be the finals.’ Either it was going to be [Ryan] Bader, and I thought Nemkov was going to win, because he’s the champ, he’s been looking so good. He had a tough fight tonight. I’m going to let him heal up for, let’s say a month or so, but I think we’re going to start having a conversation at the end of the next 30 days about when we’ll have the finals.”
“I personally would love to have the finals sometime in late January, early February,” continued Coker. “Let’s give those guys some time to heal up. Corey obviously doesn’t need to heal up, his fight was very short, but I think Nemkov needs a little bit of rest time, then we’ll get it on.”
Main event fighter and tournament alternate Julius Anglickas didn’t get the storybook ending he was looking for Saturday. But toppling such a dominant champ was a very tall order, and Coker doesn’t believe Anglickas’ stock has taken a hit.
“I feel like he didn’t lose any stock tonight in my opinion. Like you said he came in as an alternate, came in like you said with a very tall order, using your words, and he was one punch away from knocking Nemkov out or taking him out,” Coker stated. “If he would have hit him with one more bomb, I think it would have been over. Nemkov to his credit is a tough, tough guy, and he’s got an amazing chin. I think he just out-willed him today.”
“I don’t think he lost any stock in my opinion, and we’re going to put him back in soon.”
Watch the full Bellator 268 post-fight press conference with Scott Coker above. More coverage from the event can be found below.