Bellator Champ Vadim Nemkov is moving up to heavyweight; Likely vacating the light heavyweight title

Bellator 297 Vadim Nemkov
BELLATOR/Lucas Noonan

Bellator will likely be without a light heavyweight champion in the near future. Yesterday, current light heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov (17-2) told MMA Junkie that after conversations with his trainer and mentor Fedor Emelianenko, the two decided that Nemkov would move up to the heavyweight division.

Nemkov told MMA Junkie, “It’s a new challenge for me. I’ve done everything I can at light heavyweight. Now, it’s a new challenge to go up in weight and get another title. At 205, I don’t see anything new for me. It’s going to be rematches with the fighters I already fought. I’d keep going back to the fighters I already met. Probably, I will vacate. Yeah, I will vacate the belt and move to the heavyweight division.”

Nemkov is coming off his fourth successful title defense. Back in June at Bellator 297, he took on Yoel Romero and completely dominated the fight over the course of five rounds. That win was on the heels of another dominant win over top contender Corey Anderson. To win the light heavyweight title, Nemkov knocked out current heavyweight champion Ryan Bader.

Bellator’s Champ Moving Up

This week, Bellator 300 was announced for October and heavyweight champion Ryan Bader will be defending his title against Linton Vassell. That is a fight that Nemkov has circled and will be paying attention to.

“I am definitely looking forward to seeing the Vassell fight with Bader,” Nemkov said. “Whoever wins, I’d definitely like to fight them. Honestly, I fought Bader once, but Bader fought Fedor and Valentin Moldavksy as well. Bader looks completely different at heavyweight and he fights different. It would be interesting for me to fight him. But if Vassell is going to win, it’s going to be an interesting fight for me as well.”

Nemkov also told MMA Junkie that he might take another fight in the meantime before challenging for the Bellator heavyweight title. He knows that he might be waiting until next year and he’d prefer to get a fight in instead of waiting for a prolonged period of time.