Hello Buzz-Fans, if you have read any of my recent articles, you should know that I am not overly fond of Bellator MMA. In my eyes, Bellator will always be the USFL to the UFC’s NFL. A lot of good football players came from the USFL, but they thrived in the NFL. Same concept except in MMA terms. They have great homegrown talent that unless you truly followed Bellator (which most don’t) you wouldn’t know their names or who they are.
My case in point, if I were to ask you who the Bellator LightHeavyWeight Champion is, it would be my guess that you would probably have to Google to answer my question, which is terrible on the part of Bellator. Because since Jon Jones has moved to the Heavyweight Division, I think Bellator has the very best light heavyweight in the world today, and he happens to be their champion, Vadim Nemkov.
I have followed him since his early days in the RIZIN promotion. In my eyes this guy is the absolute total package. A four-time Combat Sambo World Champion, and the young protege of the Russian great Fedor Emelianenko. With a 12-2 record he has been on a meteoric rise since coming to Bellator. In RIZIN he faced other Bellator stars Karl Albrektsson in a losing effort and Jiri Prochazka as well. Those are two other names that unless you really follow, you would never know them, but both could very well be the future of Bellator.
In just his second fight in Bellator, Nemkov dispatched former L.H champion Liam Mcgeary with brutal leg kicks in the third round. He’s beaten Phil Davis, an avid wrestler with a ton of big fight experience, at his very own game, wrestling. Then after dominating Rafael Carvalho, he finally got his shot at a championship, by fighting the ultra boring Ryan Bader. Not only did he beat Bader, but made it look incredibly easy, making Bader look like an absolute amateur. Not to discredit the victory of Nemkov, because he was at the time a double champion holding the light heavy and heavyweight gold belts at once. After Nemkov won though, that was it, even to this day people don’t realize that Bader isn’t the champion anymore. Nemkov is explosive, has heavy hands with great combos, terrifying leg kicks, and a vicious wrestling game. This guy has a million-dollar look and an extremely high fight IQ. So why isn’t Bellator putting this guy’s face all over the place?
Terrible marketing. Instead of pushing guys like Nemkov or Albrektsson, they continue to try and push the new people they acquired, like “Rumble” Johnson or Yoel Romero. Don’t get me wrong, I thought it was a good move by Scott Coker to pick up those two guys cause they still got a few miles left on them and are far from washed up. But when you see anything online about Bellator, it’s never about the guys they have, only what they’ve gained. This will probably be the only time you ever hear me say these words, but Nemkov right now could easily go to the UFC and more than likely in a few fights be the Lightweight champ. As I have said, I’m glad Bellator has picked up more fighters to add to their L.H division, they should be brought in to enhance the talent they already have, not to mask what you already have. By all accounts, Nemkov should be pushed to the max, even when I have nothing else to listen to and tune into “weighing in,” I rarely hear the man’s name unless they’re talking about a fighter for the newly acquired fighters to come in and fight. That should be the other way around.
In the end, I feel like Nemkov will be champion in Bellator for a long time, and if marketed correctly could be the golden ticket to bringing Bellator from a second-rate copy of the UFC, into their own brand that could possibly compete with the powerhouse.