After Bellator 297, who is next for Vadim Nemkov?

Bellator 297 Vadim Nemkov
BELLATOR/Lucas Noonan

This past weekend in the main event of Bellator 297, the light heavyweight title was on the line. Champion Vadim Nemkov (17-2, 1 NC) was looking to remain perfect inside the promotion while defending his crown against the always dangerous Yoel Romero (15-7).

You never truly know what to expect from Yoel Romero and that’s what always makes him dangerous. Despite his advanced age of 46-years-old, Romero still has the explosion and power of a man much younger. Simply put, if he connects, he can put anyone out.

With that, Nemkov knew that he had to be methodical and keep the fight at his pace over the weekend. That’s exactly what he did at Bellator 297. From the opening bell, Nemkov established his kicks and lengthy punches. He kept the pace high and never let Romero get really comfortable.

Romero had big moments here and there, but Nemkov was really never in trouble. It was a beautiful performance for five rounds by the light heavyweight champion. When the scorecards were read, Nemkov won a lopsided decision and retained his Bellator light heavyweight crown.

Who is next after Bellator 297?

With the win on Friday night, Nemkov moved to 9-0, 1 NC in ten fights within Bellator. The one No Contest came against Corey Anderson and the two men immediately ran things back. In their second fight, Nemkov dominated all five rounds winning another lopsided decision.

Nemkov mentioned before the fight that he was tempted to move to heavyweight. As he continues to get older and get stronger, the weight cut to 205 is becoming increasingly difficult for the champion. Not too mention the fact that he’s basically cleared out the light heavyweight division.

Nemkov holds two wins over Phil Davis, a dominant win over Corey Anderson, a dominant win over Yoel Romero, and a knockout win over current heavyweight champion Ryan Bader. That last win is something to pay attention to in terms of Nemkov’s next fight.

Back in February, Bader knocked out Nemkov’s mentor and trainer Fedor Emelianenko for the second time to defend his heavyweight title. Prior to that, Bader also defeated Nemkov’s training partner Valentin Moldavsky. After Moldavsky lost his second matchup at heavyweight recently, it’s clear he’s not getting a title shot soon.

That opens the door for Nemkov to potentially move to Bellator’s heavyweight division. If you’re asking me, the most compelling fight for Nemkov is moving up to heavyweight to face Bader. He’s already knocked him out at 205 to take the light heavyweight title, now he can try to do the same to take his heavyweight title.

If he stays at 205, the only compelling fight really is a rematch with Corey Anderson. Anderson was in control of their first fight before it ended in a No Contest. That would be Bellator’s selling point if they went that route. Nothing is set in stone, but I’d put money on Nemkov’s next fight being against Bader or Corey Anderson.

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