Vadim Nemkov has clearly emerged as the man to beat in the Bellator light heavyweight tournament after a convincing title defense against Phil Davis on Friday night.

Nemkov (14-3) is already Bellator champion at 205 pounds, but given the promotion’s bigger tournament names like Anthony Rumble Johnson, Yoel Romero and Ryan Bader, it would be easy to overlook him. On Friday, the 28-year-old Russian showed the rest of his talent in a five-round decision over Davis.

All three judges gave a score of 48-47 in favor of Nemkov for the fight, which took place at Bellator 257 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. With this win, Nemkov defends his lightweight title for the first time, which he won from Bader last August, and advances to the tournament semifinals, where he will face either Johnson or Romero.

My plan was to outsmart him and protect his fight, Nemkov said through an interpreter. I am very happy with my performance, but I made some mistakes. I’ll work on it next time.

Nemkov, who trains under legendary Russian heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko, was excellent in the first three rounds. He mixed the offense well, attacking Davis’ front leg with low kicks and the body and head with punch combinations. In the third round, he dropped Davis with a left hook in the middle of the cage.

Davis (22-6), looking for revenge for a very narrow loss to Nemkov in a split decision in 2018, turned things around in the final rounds. It landed on the back of Nemkov’s ear, knocking him temporarily off balance and falling backwards for the first time in the fight. Davis continued that momentum in a hard-fought fifth round, but the 13-year veteran dug himself too deep early. Yet Davis’ remarkable statistics of never finishing a fight remain intact.

For Nemkov, this brings his active win to eight in a row. His next opponent will be 7. can meet Johnson and Romero at Bellator 258. Both former UFC fighters will be making their Bellator MMA debuts.

Anderson advances to the semi-finals with a dominant performance.

Corey Anderson (15-5) has made it no secret that he plans to take opponents and beat them until someone stops him. Dovletjan Yagshimuradov couldn’t stop him.

Anderson advanced to the semifinals of the Bellator MMA light heavyweight tournament by finishing the fight by TKO of Yagshimuradov (18-6-1) at 2:15 of round three. The win puts him in a fight against former champion Ryan Bader, who defeated Lyoto Machida in the first round a week ago.

Anderson, from New Jersey, used his wrestling skills to put Jagshimuradov down in the second and third rounds and completely neutralize his attack. In the first round, the Turk resisted several counters from his host, almost knocked Anderson down with a spinning back kick, but had to concede defeat fairly early in the fight.

I wasn’t hurt, just off balance, Anderson said, after a blow to the head that appeared to knock him out. I told the coach: I’m fine. It didn’t hit me. But it got me out of where I was. I kept calm and moved on to the next round.

Once Anderson took Yagshimuradov to the ground, things quickly went downhill for the former UFC veteran. He went to work from the top position with elbows and moved to full mount in the second round. Yagshimuradov looked very uncomfortable from behind and it was only a matter of time before the referee had to step in.

Anderson moves to 2-0 inside the Bellator MMA cage.

Daley overcomes a tough start and knocks Homasi out for two.

Paul Daley said he had no respect for Sabah Homasi’s punching power ahead of their welterweight fight on Friday night – but it didn’t take long for that to change.

Daley (42-17-2) defeated Homasi (15-8) in 1:44 of the second round, but not before nearly being knocked out himself in the first few minutes of the fight. Homasi, who trains with American Top Team, shocked Daley with a first right hand and then shortly thereafter slammed him into the fence with punches.

Referee Kevin McDonald controlled the action, but Daley, 38, did enough to survive. Back on his feet, he turned the tables in no time, knocking Homasi out with three unanswered knees in the clinch in the final minute of the first round. The end came quickly in the second round when Daly started with a right followed by a hard left hook.

I didn’t give him the respect he deserved, Daley said. This guy can fuck as hard as [welterweight champion Douglas Lima]. When I look at my fights, I don’t really fall, and I’ve gone up against some of the best attackers. Much respect to Homasi.

For Daly, who fights from Nottingham, England, it was his first appearance since October 2019.

Former title challenger Arteaga nods to Yanez.

Bantamweight Veta Arteaga (6-4) was able to defeat Desiree Yanez (5-3) by majority decision despite receiving points for an illegal knee in the second round.

Against Arteaga, two judges gave it 29-27, the third 28-28 with a point deduction. Arteaga got a point for kneeling an opponent on the ground, not seeing that Yanez kept his hand on the mat in a headlock position. Yanez wasn’t too bothered by his knee injury, however, and was able to continue after a short break.

Overall, it was Arteaga’s boxing that dictated the fight, as she had a series of constant attacks on the feet. Yanez had his moments and mixed in a handful of takedowns, but couldn’t score enough to beat Arteaga on the scoreboard. Arteaga, who unsuccessfully challenged Ilima-Leigh McFarlane for the title in April 2019, ended a streak of two fights.

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