San Jose, CA — The finale of the Bellator light heavyweight grand prix at Bellator 277 was no finale at all in the end. And Corey Anderson knows that his own good sportsmanship cost him a world title, not to mention a million dollars in prize money.
Anderson (16-5, 1NC) saw his fight with champion Vadim Nemkov come to an end just seconds away from the end of the third round on Friday, due to an accidental clash of heads. That resulted in a No Contest, leaving the grand prix still up in the air.
“Overtime” was already moving past the unfortunate circumstances while speaking to Cageside Press and other media outlets backstage at the SAP Center in San Jose following the fight.
“A coach of mine told me in college, ‘you’ve got five minutes to sulk.’ I had those five minutes, I jumped in the shower. There’s nothing I can do about it now,” Anderson acknowledged. “It’s very upsetting, especially because I broke him. You can’t say that I wasn’t winning the fight when the clash happened. It is what it is, I went out there and did exactly what I was supposed to do. Like I said I was going to do — I was going to go out there and dominate. He can’t handle my wrestling, the ground n’ pound. I was pacing myself, and I knew the fourth round, it was going to be over.”
It’s not lost on Anderson that it was his own good sportsmanship that cost him the win, however. “There’s a good sport in me. I saved him myself. I felt the head hit, and the ref was like ‘keep going, keep going,’ and I said ‘I headbutted him.’ And that’s why they stopped it. So if I hadn’t of said nothing, another three seconds it would have been over, and I would have been champ. But, the good sport in me, it is what it is.”
Anderson’s not wrong. Had the round come to an end, the fight would have gone to the scorecards — and after a close first round, the 32-year old had been pulling away in the fight. He almost certainly would have won with the judges. Instead, he’ll now have to wait for a rematch. Scott Coker suggested August or September as a potential timeframe after the fight, but Anderson believes that with the cut and potential damage to his orbital, Nemkov may try to delay even longer.
“I’m pretty sure he’s going to try to push the fight back as long as he can, maybe even to 2023 which, I hope not,” opined Anderson. “As soon as possible, I would like to get it over with, so I can move on, get this money, and go back to living my life with my family and not in training camp for a year straight like I have been.”
Watch the full Bellator 277 post-fight press conference with Corey Anderson above. More coverage from the event can be found below.