Julius Anglickas had one brief glimmer of hope against Vadim Nemkov, but it was only fleeting.
Nemkov (14-2, 7-0 Bellator) retained his light heavyweight crown with a dominating fourth-round submission victory over Anglickas (10-2, 3-1 Bellator) in the Bellator 268 headliner at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Ariz., on Saturday night, punching his ticket to the finals of the promotion’s 205-pound grand prix. A kimura at the 4:25 mark of Round 4 brought the show to a close. Nemkov will square off with Corey Anderson in the grand prix championship at a future event, presumably in 2022.
Anglickas gave Nemkov a scare in the opening stanza when he buckled the Fedor Emeliankeno protege with a straight right. The Russian responded by taking Anglickas to the canvas, where he was able to recover and land some ground-and-pound before the Lithuanian fighter returned to his feet. For the rest of the frame, Nemkov kept Anglickas at bay with straight punches and kicks.
Over the course of the next three rounds, however, it was Nemkov’s wrestling that determined the course of the fight. He grounded Anglickas with relative ease in each period, battering his opponent with punches and elbows from top position while threatening with several different submissions including an arm-triangle, an armbar and the fight-ending kimura. After his one glimpse of success, Anglickas offered little resistance on the canvas, but it was impressive enough that he survived as long as he did. Anglickas was a replacement in the grand prix for Anthony Johnson, who withdrew from the bracket due to health concerns.
“He caught me. I wasn’t knocked down. I just kind of fell,” Nemkov said of Anglickas’ one big moment. “The reason I went to grappling is he’s got a hard head. I hit him a few times and realized it just wasn’t going to happen, so that’s why I went to the submissions.”
In the co-main event, Corey Anderson made a huge statement with a quick technical knockout victory over former 205-pound champion Ryan Bader. “Overtime” brought a close to the contest 51 seconds into Round 1 with a flurry of ground-and-pound on the reeling former Arizona State University All-American. Bader has lost two of his last three appearances at light heavyweight but remains the California-based promotion’s heavyweight ruler.
“It feels amazing. For everything I’ve been through…To make it here is truly a blessing,” Anderson said. “For Ryan being a friend of mine, I hate the fact that it had to happen, but somebody had to lose.”
An overhand right behind the ear from Anderson dropped Bader and set the finishing sequence in motion. From there, Bader did his best to cover up and roll out of danger as Anderson unleashed a furious salvo of ground-and-pound. Eventually, the Power MMA team stalwart could no longer intelligently defend himself and referee Jason Herzog stepped in to end the carnage. Anderson has won seven of his last eight professional outings heading into the grand prix final.
Elsewhere, Brent Primus (11-2, 9-2 Bellator) staked his claim to another lightweight title shot with a unanimous decision victory over former UFC champion Benson Henderson (28-11, 5-6 Bellator). The ex-Bellator king received scorecards of 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27 to win for the third time in four outings since relinquishing the 155-pound belt to Michael Chandler in December 2018.
Ultimately, Primus proved to be the better competitor on the canvas, as he threatened with submissions from his back and took Henderson’s back on multiple occasions. In the opening round, Primus denied multiple Henderson takedowns and attacked with both a guillotine and a kimura. Henderson was at his best in the second stanza, as he mixed kicks to various levels, knees to the body and straight left hands. The momentum shifted when Primus took Henderson’s back at the 1:30 mark and spent the rest of the second round in that position.
Henderson landed another left hand that briefly made Primus stumble to knee early in Round 3, but the Sports Lab representative recovered and took advantage of an ill-advised Henderson guillotine attempt shortly thereafter. Primus denied the submission attempt and threatened with a choke of his own before transitioning to back mount. From there, the 36-year-old would spend more than two minutes attached to the back of his opponent. Though Primus didn’t do serious damage with punches or come close to securing a choke, there was nothing Henderson could do to escape the predicament.
Earlier, Henry Corrales (19-6, 7-6 Bellator) kept the fight upright and cruised to a unanimous verdict over Vladyslav Parubchenko (15-3, 0-2 Bellator) in a featherweight affair. All three cageside judges submitted 30-27 tallies in favor of the 35-year-old Fight Ready representative.
Parubchenko landed a takedown early in the opening stanza, but Corrales was able to return to his feet in relatively short order and dictate the terms of engagement from there. Corrales gradually picked up steam, landing right hands at range and doing good work with dirty boxing in the clinch while Parubchenko struggled to close the distance. His best moment came in Round 3, when he dropped Parubchenko with a short left hand during an exchange in the pocket. From there, Corrales only gained confidence, as he put his punches together and kept this opponent on the defensive for the majority of the frame.
On the preliminary card, Karl Albrektsson (13-3, 2-1 Bellator) survived a hard-fought battle against light heavyweight grand prix participant Dovltdzhan Yagshimuradov (18-7, 0-2 Bellator) to win a unanimous decision at 205 pounds. All three judges submitted 29-28 scorecards in favor of Albrektsson. The 28-year-old Pancrase Gym Sweden representative has won four straight bouts, a streak that includes a pair of triumphs within the California-based promotion.
After a slow-paced but competitive opening stanza, the action picked up significantly in Round 2. Albrektsson clipped and dropped the Turkmenistan native with a right hand early in the stanza and from there, the Swede teed off with right hands on Yagshimuradov as he attempted to stand before eventually assuming full mount. Albrektsson spent much of the period landing punches and elbows from top position, with Yagshimuradov twice using leg locks to sweep and escape from his back.
Round 3 was the most closely contested of all the frames. Albrektsson grounded and mounted his foe early, but Yagshimuradov was able to explode back to his feet. The most memorable moment of the round came from the Absolute Championship Akhmat titlist, as he followed a spinning high kick with a massive three-punch combination that had Albrektsson reeling against the fence. “King” was able to regain his bearings enough to score another takedown in the final minute to halt Yagshimuradov’s momentum on the feet.
In his first bout in more than two years, former Absolute Championship Berkut title holder Mukhamed Berkhamov showed no signs of rust, as he tapped ex-Legacy Fighting Alliance champ Jaleel Willis with a guillotine choke 4:05 into the opening round of a preliminary welterweight bout. Now established as a contender at 170 pounds, the Sanford MMA representative has finished nine of his 14 career wins via submission.
Willis (15-3, 2-1 Bellator) started quickly, landing a right hand that sent his opponent stumbling backward to the mat. From there, Willis set up in guard before eventually transitioning to a rear-naked choke attempt. Berkhamov (14-0, 1-0 Bellator) was able to stand, shake his adversary off and assume a dominant position. From there, the 27-year-old Russian landed punches to Willis’ head from back control before transitioning to a mounted guillotine — keeping Willis’ arm trapped across his neck — with his foe seated against the fence. Willis had no choice but to tap in a matter of seconds, his six-fight winning streak a thing of the past.
In earlier preliminary action: Former Legacy Fighting Alliance champion Nick Browne (12-1, 1-0 Bellator) submitted Bobby Lee (12-7, 0-3 Bellator) with a heel hook 1:38 into the opening round at lightweight; Javier Torres (12-5, 1 NC, 1-2 Bellator) ended his MMA career with a split-decision triumph over Gregory Millard (12-7, 0-2 Bellator) at middleweight; Sumiko Inaba (3-0, 3-0 Bellator) submitted Randi Field (2-1, 0-1 Bellator) with an arm-triangle choke at the 2:02 mark of Round 2 in a flyweight contest; Lance Gibson Jr. (5-0, 3-0 Bellator) pounded out Raymond Pina (9-5, 0-2 Bellator) with punches from top position 1:44 into the second round of their lightweight scrap; Jaylon Bates (4-0, 4-0 Bellator) tapped out Raphael Montini de Lima (5-5, 1 NC, 0-1 Bellator) with an armbar 3:49 into the opening stanza at bantamweight; Ryan Bader training partner Sullivan Cauley (2-0, 2-0 Bellator) dispatched Deon Clash (1-1, 0-1 Bellator) with punches and elbows 4:59 into the opening round at light heavyweight; Maria Henderson, the wife of Bellator lightweight contender Benson Henderson, submitted Collette Santiago 40 seconds into Round 1 in an amateur flyweight contest.
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