Bellator 257: Nemkov vs Davis 2 Preview

The Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix continues at Bellator 257, live from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut this Friday night.

On the right hand side of the draw, the Bellator Light Heavyweight Championship is on the line as Vadim Nemkov (13-2) defends his crown against Phil Davis (22-5). This will be a rematch from Bellator 209, where Nemkov won via split decision. That is Nemkov’s only decision win on his record, with the other 12 coming via stoppage.

Nemkov is an assassin in the cage and possesses fantastic kickboxing skills with the power to end it with one blow. He has a background in combat sambo so is also a danger on the mat, with two of his wins coming via rear naked choke. Davis has a heavy wrestling base and has dominated many elite fighters on the deck.

Davis has never been finished inside the distance despite facing knockout artists like Rashad Evans and Rumble Johnson in the past. His last 3 losses have been via split decision so is far from an easy out for even the best fighters. This will likely be a close fight like the first time out. Davis will look to impose his wrestling game and try to finish it on the mat, whereas Nemkov will look to end it on the feet. This should be hotly contested.

Corey Anderson (14-5) and Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov (18-5-1) will battle it out to decide who advances to face Ryan Bader in the semi final. In a similar style matchup to the main event, Anderson is a great wrestler with thunderous ground and pound. Yagshimuradov is a heavy hitting striker with a sambo background.

Anderson was successful in his Bellator debut last time out, defeating Melvin Manhoef with elbows in the second round. Yagshimuradov makes his US debut after being signed from the ultra competitive ACA promotion in Russia, where he was the Light Heavyweight Champion. Both men are elite Light Heavyweights and this could easily have been the final had they been on opposite sides of the draw.

England’s Paul Daley (42-17-2) goes into the fray for the final time. The 38-year old Nottingham legend pulls the curtain on one of the most exciting careers in mixed martial arts. He faces Sabah Homasi (15-8). Both men go out to finish fights. Daley has over 30 wins by knockout, with Homasi scoring 10 of his own. This is going to be a firefight that can end at any time. Daley is going to want to end things in style so Scott Coker better have his bonus cheques ready for this one.

A women’s flyweight bout between Veta Arteaga (5-4) and Desiree Yanez (5-2) will kick off the main card. Former title challenger Arteaga is on a two fight skid so is looking to snap the streak and make a move back up the rankings. Yanez is making her Bellator debut. This fight was originally scheduled for Bellator 250 in October, but was scrapped due to Arteaga testing positive for COVID-19.

On the prelim card, there are multiple interesting fights involving European talent. SBG’s Pedro Carvalho (11-4) returns to take on undefeated Jay Jay Wilson (7-0). Carvalho is back to the drawing board after a defeat in a Featherweight Title fight against Patricio Pitbull. The Portuguese native is solid all round and is capable of winning it anywhere the fight goes. Wilson is not too dissimilar. Whilst favouring submissions to end a fight, he has nasty ground and pound capabilities. This is a fantastically matched fight and should be one of the best on the card.

England and Denmark go to battle as Saul Rogers (14-3) and Mads Burnell (14-3) compete in what on paper is an incredibly even fight. Both men are elite grapplers, both in terms of dominant top control and in their submission games. Burnell in particular has pulled off multiple Japanese neck ties at a high level. Rogers qualified for the final of The Ultimate Fighter 22, however had to pull out due to visa related issues. Burnell had a UFC run of his own and was unlucky to get his walking papers after going 1-2. In terms of European showdowns, this is as competitive as it gets.

Sweden’s Karl Albrektsson (10-3) goes in search of his first Bellator win against Viktor Nemkov (30-7-1). Albrektsson, easily recognisable with his curly blonde hair, is a fantastic striker who has some great wins on his record, including his opponent’s younger brother, Vadim Nemkov. Viktor is more submission focused than his brother and possesses a huge experience advantage over the Swede. A place in the rankings should await the winner.

Rounding off on the European side, Lithuania’s Julius Anglickas (9-1) looks to extend his eight fight win streak against Aruba’s Gregory Milliard (12-6). Anglickas was victorious on the Dana White Contender Series and is dangerous both on the feet and on the ground. Armenia’s Grachik Bozinyan (10-4) looks to get off the mark in Bellator against new signing Demarques Jackson (11-4).

From a North American point of view, former Featherweight champion Julia Budd (14-3) takes on newcomer Dayana Silva (9-5). Elite kick-boxer Raymond Daniels (2-1) hopes to produce fireworks against Peter Stanonik (5-4). Undefeated submission specialist Steve Mowry (8-0) takes on Shaun Asher (13-3-1). Canadian Lance Gibson Jr. (3-0) puts his zero on the line versus Marcus Surin (6-2).

Bellator 257 is live on Friday night, starting with the prelims at 11pm IST on Youtube, followed by the main card at 2am Saturday morning on Virgin Media Sports in Ireland and the BBC iPlayer in the U.K.

Seán Denny is a Dublin man who writes mostly on the European scene, with a keen interest in the Irish, UK and Polish scenes in particular. Follow me on Twitter at @DennyRants.