The Bellator Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix continues this Friday with a pair of quarterfinal fights. In the first tournament bout, Corey Anderson will take on Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov. The night’s main event features light heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov taking on Phil Davis for both the title and a trip to the tournament semifinals.
Nemkov beat Davis in a 2018 bout, taking a split decision at Bellator 209. Two fights after the win over Davis, Nemkov won the light heavyweight title with a knockout victory over Ryan Bader in 2020. The fight with Davis is his first title defense and comes in a tournament loaded with big names.
Davis rebounded from the loss to Nemkov with a three-fight winning streak that he’ll bring into the cage on Friday. In his most recent fight, he picked up a split decision win over fellow tournament participant Lyoto Machida. Machida lost his opening round fight to Ryan Bader this past Friday.
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The co-main event sees Anderson making just his second appearance in the Bellator cage. He’s coming off a dominant win over Melvin Manhoef in November 2020. Now, he’s just three victories away from being crowned a champion for the first time by a major promotion. He gets a tough test in Yagshimuradov, who is undefeated since 2016. The Turkmenistan native is making his promotional debut after a dominant run in eastern Europe.
Here’s the fight card for Bellator 257 with the latest odds from William Hill Sportsbook.
Vadim Nemkov vs. Phil Davis: The first meeting between the two men was an interesting bout, with Nemkov working leg kicks and sheer output to put away the first two rounds. Davis fought back in the third and was finally able to use his wrestling to take the fight to the ground, fishing for submissions but already down too far on the scorecards for a comeback. Nemkov has shown true growth fight over fight in the Bellator cage and he completely dominated Bader in the stand-up, showing off impressive speed while getting in and out with big shots before finishing the fight late. Nemkov isn’t impossible to take down, as Davis and Bader both put him on his back, but his diverse striking game, featuring both speed and power, will be a factor as every round starts on the feet. Davis is more than capable of grinding out wins, but he is sometimes his own worst enemy with low offensive output. That plays into Nemkov’s strengths and he could take the fight on sheer pacing alone.