Prior to the Bellator sale to PFL, Corey Anderson thought he would have time to settle some business with Vadim Nemkov.
After their first encounter ended in anticlimactic fashion with a no-contest, the result of an accidental clash of heads in a fight Anderson was winning, the rematch went almost exactly the opposite with Nemkov getting the nod on the scorecards.
Following a win over Phil Davis in June, Anderson started speaking to the matchmakers about booking a third fight with Nemkov for late 2023. But just when it looked like the fight might happen, the Russian light heavyweight champion announced he was done competing at 205 pounds.
“I definitely wanted to get one more in this year,” Anderson told MMA Fighting. “I wanted at least two, I was hoping to get three this year. I told Bellator at the end of last year, I wanted to get more active. I wanted two or three fights and then this year, I wanted to get two and they were trying to get the [Vadim] Nemkov [trilogy] and that was supposed to happen in November in Chicago. Then Nemkov made his announcement that he didn’t want to fight at 205 anymore.
“Then it was maybe Phil [Davis] again for the belt or somebody else would step up. I think Johnny Eblen was talking about possibly coming up to 205.”
None of those matchups came together before Bellator promoted its final show under its old management in November and was acquired by PFL. While Bellator will still move forward as a separate brand, all of the fighters previously competing there are under the PFL banner.
Whether it’s in PFL or the new-look Bellator, Anderson would still love the chance to settle things with Nemkov/ But he’s essentially given up hope that fight will happen any time soon– if ever.
“I tell everybody scared money don’t make no money,” Anderson said about Nemkov. “Don’t be acting scared, bro. Just take that risk. Let’s go. You know what’s going to happen. You know I’m preparing. You know it ain’t going to happen the same [as the rematch]. I ain’t going to just wrestle this time. I’m going to put them hands on you. My thought is if you’re going to be scared, go ahead, keep on running. Go to heavyweight. All that extra people talking about ‘he don’t want to fight these people, he done beat everybody.’ No, we’re 1-1. It didn’t go to the scorecards but we’re 1-1.
“It’s a rubber match. He was scared to see what would happen and like I told people, he’d rather just relinquish the belt that actually lose it.”
Anderson expressed disappointment that he might not get the chance to run it back with Nemkov, though he’s not totally opposed to a trip to heavyweight to settle that business one day. For now, he remains committed to the light heavyweight division, where he’s effectively the last man standing.
“You can’t make him fight,” Anderson said. “If he’s going to be scared, let him tuck his tail and run. Let him run somewhere else. Let him go do what he’s going to do. If he don’t want to man up and fight that third one and see what happens, I ain’t going to put a gun to your head. But we know. That’s it.”
If Nemkov really plans to move forward as a heavyweight, that leaves the Bellator 205-pound division without a champion, and Anderson is more than ready to fill that void. If the PFL still plans to promote a champion versus champion card against Bellator, Anderson volunteered his services to replace Nemkov at that event. UFC veteran Impa Kasanganay made an improbable run to become the 2023 PFL light heavyweight champion, and Anderson would love the chance to face him in early 2024.
“The night he won the belt I tweeted sign me up,” Anderson said when addressing Kasanganay. “Because Nemkov can’t fight 205. They gave him the opportunity to fight me and defend the belt against me. He claimed he can’t make 205 anymore. It would be a dang shame if he said, ‘I can make the weight now.’ Nah, bro, it means you’re scared. You didn’t want to fight me for the third time.
“If that’s the case, it’s only right that I step in for the 205 belt or defend the 205 belt for Bellator. I’m not the champ but if there’s nobody else there, I’m the next guy up. I got it now.”
More than anything, Anderson just wants some clarity about what comes next, because he’s still awaiting word from the PFL about his plans for 2024. He’s anxious to get back to work.
“I just want to fight [and] make money,” Anderson said. “I stay ready so I don’t have to get ready. The main goal is the belt. That’s what I want. But one thing [Daniel Cormier] made me realize, that belt ain’t going to pay bills and scholarships and college tuition and everything else.
“I don’t need the money — I told my wife we’re fine if we don’t fight for another two years, we could be good — but I want to stack as much money as I can, while I can, so when I walk away, you know I didn’t do this sport for nothing.”
Source : MMAFighting