You probably know the story by now. With Anthony Johnson dropping out of Bellator’s light heavyweight grand prix, tournament alternate Julius Anglickas had the opportunity of a lifetime at Bellator 268.
A shot at the promotion’s 205lb title. A chance to land a spot in the grand prix final, where one million dollars would be on the line.
Of course, standing in his way was Russian champ Vadim Nemkov. One of the most dangerous light heavyweight fighters on the planet. A protege of the legendary Fedor Emelianenko.
Only a minute into Saturday’s main event, the action was halted after Angickas caught the champ with an eye poke. Nemkov was able to continue, and soon after landed a right hand. Nemkov targeted the body, but Anglickas rocked him with a counter. Nemkov appeared to be on unsteady legs, retreated, then changed levels and landed a takedown. Nemkov went to work in his opponent’s guard, going body-head and staying active. Anglickas would eventually scramble up, and they’d go back to work at center. Nemkov had a slight speed edge, and his jab was on point, as was a head kick that was partially blocked in the dying seconds of the round.
Nemkov’s left hand was lightning-fast early in the second round; he’d throw the head kick again in the opening minute as well. Anglickas was still pressing forward, but Nemkov clinched and landed a takedown roughly 90 seconds in. In half guard, the champ looked to get to work, peppering the body with punches before going to the head. During the takedown sequence, Nemkov had somehow been cut, potentially off an accidental headbutt on the way down.
Off his back, Anglickas tried to throw up a punch or two, but otherwise was mostly trying to hold on to Nemkov. With time running low in the round, Nemkov began unleashing some hellacious ground n’ pound, battering Anglickas until the bell.
Nemkov put Anglickas on his back once more in the opening minute of round three. The champ re-positioned, keeping his feet to the fence, and Anglickas’ head out towards center. Through the opening two rounds, Anglickas had shown difficulty scrambling free, and he didn’t seem to have the submission game to succeed off his back. That left Nemkov in the driver’s seat, with lots of time remaining. He’d spend almost the entirely of the round in control.
.@JuliusAnglickas looks to turn the Russian tide late in the 3rd round.
— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) October 17, 2021
Once again in the fourth, Nemkov changed levels early, and shot in on a double-leg takedown. Anglickas was straight to his back. The champ landed, kept the pressure on, landed some more, and worked his way to half-guard, threatening to mount. Nemkov moved to side control, and began to really soften up the challenger. Outside of a head kick attempt prior to that takedown, Anglickas had virtually no offense in the round. With Anglickas lost on his back, Nemkov trapped an arm and locked on the kimura, forcing the tap.
Anglickas doesn’t get the fairytale ending, but he showed plenty of heart in the fight. Vadim Nemkov, meanwhile, defends his title for the second time in the grand prix — and moves on to the million dollar finale. There, he’ll face Corey Anderson, who earned a dominant win of his own against Ryan Bader earlier in the evening.
Official Result: Vadim Nemkov def. Julius Anglickas by submission (kimura), Round 4, 4:25