Bellator announces move to Showtime and Light Heavyweight Grand Prix

Bellator MMA has been relatively quiet since the calendar moved over to 2021. However, they’ve been making big moves behind the scenes that would further the promotion’s vision in 2021.

Today, Bellator announced that they have agreed to a deal with Showtime and Showtime will now become the exclusive home for their events. Just last year, Bellator announced they had a deal with CBS Sports Network, but the Viacom promotion is shifting gears.

Showtime decided to get involved and both sides agreed that it would be best to move the promotion to Showtime. Bellator will also be moving their events back to Friday nights after a brief stint on Thursdays.

In addition to announcing the new deal with Showtime, Scott Coker announced some exciting news in terms of the light heavyweight division. By far, the light heavyweight division is the best that Bellator has to offer.

They made some huge signings in the last year and they are ready to capitalize. Coker announced today that Bellator would be starting a Light Heavyweight Grand Prix that will start on April 9th.

Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix

The Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix will kick off on April 9th. In the first quarter final matchup, Corey Anderson (14-5) will be taking on Bellator newcomer, Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov (18-5-1).

Also on April 9th in the main event of the evening, Ryan Bader (27-6) will be taking on Lyoto Machida (26-10). Bader is the Bellator heavyweight champion and just lost his light heavyweight title last year to Vadim Nemkov (12-2).

Of course, the matchup everyone wanted to see takes place on April 16th. Yoel Romero (13-5) and Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (22-6) will battle it out. However, despite the hype behind this matchup, it will not serve as the main event on April 16th.

Instead, that honor will belong to the Bellator Light Heavyweight champion, Vadim Nemkov. Nemkov will be competing in the tournament and defending his title against Phil Davis (22-5, 1 NC). An absolutely stacked field and fight fans should be very excited about this Grand Prix.

Corey Anderson says Bellator is better than the UFC at light heavyweight

Corey Anderson

2020 turned out to be an eventful year for Bellator‘s Corey Anderson (14-5). When the year started, Anderson was one of the top contenders in the UFC’s light heavyweight division. He appeared to be one win away from a title shot.

However, Jan Blachowicz (27-8) starched Anderson in February to claim that top contender status. After Anderson was knocked out, he had a series of health concerns that kept him from competing. These health scares also had him reevaluate his career.

Anderson decided to go to the UFC and ask for more money. When the promotion wasn’t willing to, he asked for a release to be able to look around in the market. The UFC released Anderson and Bellator signed him almost immediately.

It turned out to be the first of several moves like this for Bellator. After signing Anderson, Bellator would go on to sign Yoel Romero (13-5) and Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (22-6) after they were released from the UFC.

Those top three contenders join the likes of Vadim Nemkov (12-2), Ryan Bader (27-6, 1 NC), and Phil Davis (22-5, 1 NC). It’s safe to say that Bellator’s light heavyweight division has never been better.

In fact, it’s so good that Anderson believes it’s the best on the planet. Anderson told MMA Fighting, “I just feel right now Bellator has the upper hand. Jones has left. They’ve got these hype trains. These young guys UFC has coming in they’re trying to hype up but I feel like their legitimacy aren’t like the vets that were there that are in Bellator now.”

Bellator or the UFC?

If we are going to go on pure name recognition, it’s hard to argue Corey Anderson’s point. Bellator has some serious name power in their light heavyweight division. However, it is the best in the sport?

In all honesty, if you’re looking at the totality of their top five, it might be. The UFC’s top contender is Glover Teixeira (32-7) who was knocked out in 14 seconds by Anthony “Rumble” Johnson.

Then again, there’s also Dominick Reyes (12-2) and Jiri Prochazka (27-3-1) in the UFC’s top five. Prochazka stopped Bellator’s champion, Vadim Nemkov, when the two of them faced off a few years ago.

Another interesting wrinkle to throw into things is the light heavyweight debut of Israel Adesanya (20-0). Stylebender is fighting Blachowicz for the UFC light heavyweight title in March.

Anderson definitely has an argument that Bellator is just as good if not better at 205 than the UFC. However, I believe the best light heavyweight in the world right now is Jan Blachowicz with Jon Jones moving up.

Overall, the UFC has a deeper division due to the amount of fighters on the roster and they have younger contenders. While Bellator is right there, I would still give the advantage to the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization, the UFC.

Bold 2021 predictions for Bellator MMA

Patricio Pitbull Freire

2021 is already promising to be a massive year for Bellator MMA. The promotion made some major progress in 2020 despite having to shut down for a few months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bellator put on some tremendous fights in 2020. However, it was their string of signings in the second half of the year that had the MMA world buzzing. Bellator really stacked their light heavyweight division.

Bellator added Yoel Romero (13-5), Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (22-6), and Corey Anderson (14-5) to their light heavyweight division. All of the former top UFC contenders parted ways with the UFC this year.

As soon as they hit the open market, Bellator scooped them up. In doing so, the promotion has put together a light heavyweight division that is certainly capable of competing with the UFC’s light heavyweight division.

There are so many things to watch for with Bellator in 2021. I wanted to do some bold predictions for the promotion for what will happen in 2021. If these predictions come true, there are going to be some shocked MMA fans.

2021 Bellator Bold Predictions

Patricio Pitbull leaves 2021 without a title

For my first bold prediction I’m looking at Bellator’s two-division champion, Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (31-4). Pitbull is widely considered to be the best fighter that Bellator has on the roster. He’s arguably the best fighter in the promotion’s history.

He currently is the Bellator lightweight and featherweight champion. However, there has been whispers of him vacating the lightweight championship. Pitbull became the lightweight champion when he defeated Michael Chandler (21-5) in 2019.

However, Pitbull is small for the weight class. He mainly moved up to lightweight to challenge Chandler to avenge his brother’s (Patricky Pitbull) knockout loss to Chandler. He has yet to defend the lightweight championship.

I’m going to say that Patricio Pitbull vacates the Bellator lightweight championship to focus on featherweight. However, I think that this is going to be the year that Pitbull is dethroned at featherweight.

The most exciting prospect in Bellator is AJ McKee (17-0). The Mercenary has fought all seventeen of his professional fights under the Bellator banner. They’ve brought him along the right way and he’s on the verge of superstardom.

McKee has already earned a spot in the finals of Bellator’s featherweight Grand Prix. The other spot will go to the winner of the fight between Patricio Pitbull and Emmanuel Sanchez (20-4).

I believe that Pitbull is going to defeat Sanchez when they fight setting up a fight between him and McKee. I’m going to say that McKee not only wins the Bellator featherweight title, but finishes Patricio Pitbull. With that, cementing himself as the superstar that Bellator needs.

Vadim Nemkov remains the light heavyweight champion

As mentioned above, the Bellator light heavyweight division is completely stacked at the moment. All of those signings are incredibly exciting and I didn’t even mention the promotion’s light heavyweight champion, Vadim Nemkov (12-2).

Nemkov knocked out Ryan Bader (27-6, 1 NC) to capture the Bellator light heavyweight championship back in August. Nobody has been able to stop Nemkov since he made his debut with the promotion in 2017.

With the additions made to the light heavyweight division, many are saying Nemkov will not leave 2021 as the champion. However, my bold prediction is that the belt stays with the Russian as we enter 2022.

As things currently stand, there are three front runners to face Nemkov whenever he defends his title. Those contenders being Corey Anderson, Phil Davis (22-5, 1 NC), and a rematch with Bader.

Something tells me that Nemkov is just going to fight twice in 2021 with both of his fights coming from that group of three. Nemkov has already defeated Davis and Bader on his way to the title.

Corey Anderson is definitely a tough challenge, however, I think Nemkov can beat him. While everyone will want to see Anthony Johnson or Yoel Romero challenge for the Bellator title next year, I’m not convinced it happens.

Something tells me that Nemkov is going to have a rematch with Ryan Bader next. Scott Coker said that they are looking into this. I believe that Nemkov will beat Bader again to retain the Bellator title.

Perhaps on the same card, I believe we will see a matchup between Davis and Anderson as a title eliminator. I also see Nemkov defeating the winner of that fight. So my prediction is when all is said and done, Vadim Nemkov is still the light heavyweight champion after 2021.

State of the Bellator light heavyweight division entering 2021

Bellator MMA had a very big year in 2020. Despite having to shutdown for a few months due to the pandemic, they accomplished some great things. From the first major MMA event in France to transitioning to CBS Sports Network. 

It’s been a very good year for Bellator. However, despite those accomplishments, it’s the additions that Bellator has made in 2020 that really stand out to me. Specifically the additions to the light heavyweight division.

The UFC parted ways with three top level fighters in 2020. Those fighters being Corey Anderson (14-5), Yoel Romero (13-5), and Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (22-6). Bellator pounced on those three immediately and scooped them up.

Anderson asked for his release earlier this year after he felt he wasn’t getting paid enough. Once released, Bellator signed him to a deal where he was making more. Yoel Romero was recently cut from the UFC. However, he fought for the middleweight title in his last fight.

Once on the market, Bellator signed him for the light heavyweight division. Rumble Johnson’s UFC return was much anticipated, but the two sides decided it would be best to part ways. Once on the market, Bellator signed Rumble as well.

Bellator’s Light Heavyweight Division in 2021

When the year started, Ryan Bader (27-6, 1 NC) held both the Bellator light heavyweight and heavyweight titles. However, he hadn’t defended his light heavyweight title since 2017. That changed at Bellator 244 when he fought Vadim Nemkov (12-2).

While there was a lot of hype surrounding Nemkov, many believed it would be another win for Bader. However, Nemkov proved the doubters wrong by stopping Bader in the second round. Nemkov is now the light heavyweight king and he’s 5-0 in Bellator.

The next title defense isn’t clear for Nemkov. There’s talk of a potential rematch with Bader, but there is also talk of him facing either Phil Davis (22-5, 1 NC) or Corey Anderson. Davis is riding a three-fight winning streak and just defeated Lyoto Machida (26-10) in September.

Anderson made his Bellator debut in November when he smashed Melvin Manhoef at Bellator 251. In my opinion, Bader should fight at heavyweight next and let Nemkov take on either Anderson or Davis.

The fight everyone wants to see is the potential matchup between Romero and Rumble. In all honesty, it’s bigger than the champion Nemkov facing off against any of those top contenders I mentioned.

Rumble – Romero is one of the biggest matchups Bellator could make in 2021. There have been whispers of a potential Grand Prix, but nothing is official. What we do know is that the light heavyweight division is stacked. Nemkov is going to have his hands full this upcoming year.

Bellator’s Yoel Romero says there’s a 90% chance he fights Rumble Johnson in debut

Bellator has been making some waves with their recent signings in the light heavyweight division. Earlier this year, the promotion signed top UFC light heavyweight Corey Anderson to bolster their light heavyweight division.

Anderson was ranked fourth in the UFC prior to the Bellator signing. Then, out of no where, Bellator signed Anthony “Rumble” Johnson after he mutually parted ways with the UFC. This week, the promotion made another huge signing.

The UFC is cutting down their roster by the end of the year. One of the fighters who was let go is Yoel Romero. Romero’s release came as a surprise considering he just fought for the title back in February in his last fight.

However, the UFC decided it was time to move on from Romero. After initially not seeming interested, Bellator pounced on the opportunity to sign Yoel Romero. They finalized the deal this week and he will be fighting in the light heavyweight division.

Romero appeared on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show to talk about his move to Bellator. He talked about his first fight saying, “There’s a huge possibility, 90% chance that (Anthony “Rumble” Johnson) will be the first one.”

Bellator’s huge light heavyweight matchup

This is the biggest matchup Bellator can make with their new signings. Romero and Rumble are two of the most feared fighters in the world. Both are freaks of nature with incredible power in their hands.

Romero won a silver medal in the Olympics for wrestling, however, it’s his power and athleticism that has made him a star. Rumble Johnson is known for separating people from their senses. Just ask Glover Teixeira who didn’t last 14 seconds with Rumble.

Bellator has some serious momentum in their light heavyweight division at the moment. While their last three signings were all fighters who were released by the UFC, they are massive additions to their roster.

I’m not saying it is, but you can definitely make the argument that Bellator‘s light heavyweight division could compete with the UFC’s. It’s been a long time since anyone said they could compete with the UFC in any division.

Bellator: Who should get the next shot at Vadim Nemkov?

This past weekend at Bellator 251, Corey Anderson made his promotional debut against Melvin Manhoef. Anderson was a top ranked light heavyweight in the UFC before making the promotional jump. Many believe he can be champion inside of Bellator.

Anderson completely dominated the fight from the opening bell to the finish. Manhoef truly had no answer for Anderson’s superior wrestling. In the second round, Anderson got Manhoef to the ground and blitzed him with elbows leading to a TKO victory.

The performance was so impressive that many think he should be next for the Bellator light heavyweight champion, Vadim Nemkov. Nemkov just won the title back in August when he knocked out former champion, Ryan Bader, at Bellator 244.

Nemkov is unbeaten in his Bellator career at 5-0. He’s already taken out the likes of Liam McGeary, Phil Davis, and Rafael Carvalho. He is the cream of the crop when it comes to Bellator’s light heavyweight division.

A matchup between Nemkov and Anderson would be something fresh for the promotion’s light heavyweight division. However, there’s a familiar opponent for Nemkov that might be in front of Corey Anderson for a title shot.

What should Bellator do?

The fighter that I’m referring to is former Bellator light heavyweight champion, Phil Davis. Since making the jump to Bellator in 2015, Davis has only lost two fights. He lost to Ryan Bader and he lost a split decision to the current champion.

Other than that, it’s been smooth sailing for Davis. Davis is coming off of a split decision victory over Lyoto Machida back in September. While the performance wasn’t sensational, it was still the third straight victory for Davis since his loss to Nemkov.

Bellator is in a very interesting position. Anderson’s dominant performance put the division on notice. A fight between Nemkov and Anderson would be something new for the division. However, can they ignore the longevity of Davis’ run in Bellator?

If I had to guess, I think that the promotion will lean towards giving the fight to Davis with Anderson fighting the winner. I could be wrong, but Anderson’s post-fight interview may have told us the future. He called out both Nemkov and Davis in his interview.

Corey Anderson dominates Melvin Manhoef in Bellator debut

Corey Anderson

Tonight at Bellator 251, Corey Anderson (14-5) made his debut with the promotion. He took on famed striker Melvin Manhoef (32-15-1, 2 NC) in the main event. The fight was a good way for Anderson to get his feet wet with Bellator.

When the matchup was booked by Bellator, many knew how Anderson would have to win the fight. Anderson is a strong wrestler while Manhoef is known for his world class striking. Anderson was going to need to go back to his routes to win this one.

The last we saw Corey Anderson in a cage, he was knocked out by current UFC light heavyweight champion, Jan Blachowicz. Anderson admittedly said that he had fallen in love with striking, but he can’t get away from his wrestling base.

Tonight, he went back to what he did best. In the main event of Bellator 251, it was all Corey Anderson. Anderson shot in immediately in the first round and took Manhoef down. Manhoef didn’t have any answers for Anderson’s wrestling attack all night.

After spending the majority of the first round on top, Anderson struck a little in the second. However, it was all just to keep Manhoef guessing. Anderson took Manhoef down in the second and with a brutal flurry of elbows finished the fight.

What’s next after Bellator 251

Tonight was the perfect Bellator debut for Corey Anderson. The matchmakers did a really good job of giving Anderson an opponent that could really showcase what he does best. Anderson delivered to the max with his performance tonight.

After this, there are no questions about what should be next for Anderson. Corey Anderson should be challenging for the Bellator light heavyweight championship. Now, there’s no guarantee that Anderson will get the next shot.

Phil Davis is also deserving of the next shot at the Bellator light heavyweight champion, Vadim Nemkov. Bellator’s light heavyweight division is looking pretty good with those three at the top of the division.

If I had to guess, I think that Nemkov will likely defend his title against Phil Davis. However, Anderson will be the first in line for the winner of that fight. Anderson called out both of them after his successful Bellator debut.

Bellator 251 Main Event Preview

Tomorrow night, Bellator MMA returns and they are featuring a solid contest in their main event. Top light heavyweight contender, Corey Anderson (13-5), will be making his promotional debut as he takes on striker, Melvin Manhoef (32-14-1, 2 NC).

Entering 2020, Corey Anderson looked like he was going to be getting a shot at the UFC light heavyweight championship. However, Anderson ran into some Polish Power and was defeated by Jan Blachowicz back in February.

After that loss, Anderson dealt with some health issues outside the cage. Once he was ready to get going, Anderson contemplated his future with the promotion. He wanted to see what other promotions had to offer him.

Anderson asked for his released, and was almost immediately signed by Bellator. He was ranked fourth in the UFC’s light heavyweight division and immediately became a top contender in Bellator. If he wins tomorrow night, he might be in line to fight for the Bellator light heavyweight championship.

Bellator 251 Preview

At Bellator 251, I’m expecting Anderson to really lean on his wrestling attack. While he showed some improved striking in his win over Johnny Walker, I don’t expect Anderson to get crazy. I think he might play it safe in his Bellator debut.

Standing across from Anderson will be Melvin Manhoef. Manhoef is a former professional kickboxer, and he’s known for his dynamic striking and power. Out of his 32 professional wins, 29 of them have come via knockout.

This fight is going to come down to where it takes place. I don’t expect Anderson to play with the fire very long tomorrow. He’s not going to have the advantage on the feet, and I don’t expect him to try to strike with Manhoef.

I think Anderson will throw a few things out there early, but mainly trying to setup his takedowns. If Manhoef can keep it standing, he’s got a good shot. We’ve seen Anderson be put away with strikes, and Manhoef has the power to pull it off. However, my guess is that the wrestling takes over in this one.

Prediction: Corey Anderson by Unanimous Decision

Corey Anderson to make Bellator debut against Melvin Manhoef

Corey Anderson

Bellator has announced it’s headliner for their fight night on November 5th. President Scott Coker told CBS Sports Network today that newly signed Corey Anderson (13-5) will be taking on Melvin Manhoef (32-14-1, 2 NC) in his promotional debut.

This will be the first Bellator fight for Manhoef in 2020. The 44 year old returned to the Bellator cage in 2019 where he went 2-0 against Kent Kauppinen and Yannick Bahati. Manhoef is known for his dangerous striking which was on display against Bahati.

Having fought all around the world, Manhoef is not going to be afraid of this moment. He’s got the striking and the power to put anyone out who stands in front of him. This is a very tough stylistic matchup for him, but don’t expect him to shy away.

Throughout his career, Manhoef has fought for all the big promotions outside the UFC. He’s fought in Bellator, ONE, Strikeforce, Dream, and K1 throughout his long career. He’s been in there against some big names from Robbie Lawler to Gegard Mousasi.

Bellator Debut for Anderson

Bellator made waves a while back when they announced that they had signed Corey Anderson. Anderson was the fourth ranked light heavyweight in the UFC, but he decided to ask for his release. Upon getting his release Bellator scooped him up right away.

Coming into 2020, Anderson looked to be primed for a title shot in the UFC. However, he was knocked out in the first round by the current UFC champion, Jan Blachowicz back in February. That completely derailed his plans.

Following a health scare, Anderson decided to ask the UFC for more money. When the UFC wasn’t willing to give him more, he asked for his release. Shortly after, he landed a lucrative contract with Bellator and he’s expected to be a force in their light heavyweight division.

While Anderson will have to be aware of Manhoef’s striking, this is a very winnable fight for Anderson. If he utilizes his wrestling skills to the best of his ability, he should be able to get a win while getting his feet wet in the Bellator cage.

Bellator 245 Preview: Phil Davis and Lyoto Machida go head to head again

Phil Davis, MMA, UFC

Bellator MMA returns tomorrow night with a solid lineup of fights for their Friday night fight night. In the main event of the evening, Phil Davis (21-5, 1 NC) takes on Lyoto Machida (26-9) for the second time in a light heavyweight main event.

With Vadim Nemkov having just knocked out Ryan Bader at Bellator 244, this is a big fight to determine the next title contender. In addition to this fight, Bellator recently signed Corey Anderson to it’s growing light heavyweight division.

Phil Davis vs Lyoto Machida 2

The two men in Bellator 245’s main event do have some history. The history dates back to UFC 163 where Phil Davis was able to win a unanimous decision over Machida in Brazil. The fight was controversial as all 13 media members scored the fight for Machida.

Machida outstruck Davis the entire fight, but Davis landed a takedown at the end of the first two rounds. Those takedowns were enough to win him the fight on the three judges scorecards. Now, these two will rematch seven years later.

Davis has been very good since making the move to Bellator. In ten fights, Davis is 8-2 with his only losses being to Nemkov and Bader. Both of those fights were razor close split decisions.

With Davis you know what he’s going to do. He can strike, but he mainly uses his striking as a way to setup his tremendous wrestling. He will be looking to secure takedowns to defeat Machida once again.

Machida is moving back up to light heavyweight after fighting Gegard Mousasi at Bellator 228 last September. Machida lost a close decision in that contest. The dragon is looking for one final run towards a world title.

The former UFC light heavyweight champion is known for his karate striking. His unique blitzing style stifles many opponents that step across the cage from him. He will be looking to use that striking to outpoint and defeat Davis.

When it comes to a prediction, I think that this fight is going to be razor close. The only way it’s not is if Davis gets Machida down and holds him down. Machida is 42 years old, and I think Davis is much improved from their first fight, but it’s still going to be close.

Prediction: Phil Davis by Split Decision

Rest of Bellator 245

There are more solid fights on the card for Bellator 245. Cat Zingano (10-4) is making her debut against Gabrielle Holloway (6-5). This is the first time we’ve seen Zingano since her fight with Megan Anderson where a head kick went right into her eye which stopped the fight.

Another fight that is worth tuning into is the middleweight matchup between Ed Ruth (8-2) and Taylor Johnson (5-1). Bellator 245 doesn’t have the biggest names on the card, but it’s a night that should be filled with some solid fights.