Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix Semifinals Set for Oct. 16 in Phoenix

By Tristen Critchfield Jul 31, 2021

The semifinals of the Bellator light heavyweight grand prix have a date and a venue.

The promotion announced Saturday that Vadim Nemkov vs. Anthony Johnson and Ryan Bader vs. Corey Anderson will take place on Oct. 16 at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Ariz. The main card airs on Showtime at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT, while prelims stream on the Bellator MMA YouTube channel, the Showtime Sports YouTube channel and Pluto TV beginning at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. Addtional bouts will be announced at a later date.

Nemkov claimed the 205-pound belt with a second-round TKO of Ryan Bader at Bellator 244 last August before outpointing Phil Davis in the quarterfinals of the grand prix at Bellator 257 on April 16. The 29-year-old Russian is currently on an eight-bout winning streak.

Johnson returned to action for the first time since 2017 at Bellator 258, where he survived some early adversity to score a second-round knockout of Jose Augusto Azevedo Barros on May 7. The 37-year-old “Rumble” is a two-time light heavyweight title challenger in the UFC and owns wins over the likes of Glover Teixeira, Bader, Alexander Gustafsson, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Davis and Andrei Arlovski.

After losing his belt to Nemkov, Bader rebounded to take a five-round verdict over Lyoto Machida in the opening round of the light heavyweight bracket. The 38-year-old Power MMA Team product is the promotion’s reigning heavyweight champion but hasn’t defended the crown since a bout against Cheick Kongo resulted in a no contest at Bellator 226 in September 2019.

Anderson has been victorious in six of his last seven professional outings, a run that includes finishes of Melvin Manhoef and Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov under the Bellator MMA banner — the latter of which allowed “Overtime” to advance to the 205-pound semifinals. Anderson went 10-4 in the UFC before signing with the Scott Coker-led organization.

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