CHICAGO – Bellator president Scott Coker feels for Corey Anderson.
“If I’m Corey, I’m really, really upset now,” Coker told reporters, including MMA Junkie, on Friday after Bellator 288. “To me, that first fight, he turned the tide in that fight, and I thought he was on his way to win that fight. And then the cut happened, which he identified and brought to (referee) Frank Trigg’s attention, and the fight stopped. As you guys all know, that’s what happened, and we went by the rules.
“If he would’ve just kept punching for 5 seconds, he would’ve been the champ, won the million dollars, and won the tournament belt.”
That was in April at Bellator 287, the first light heavyweight grand prix final between Anderson and Vadim Nemkov, which ended in a no contest. If not for Anderson’s honesty about the accidental headbutt while dominating the final moments of Round 3, the fight would’ve gone to the scorecards – and a decision awarded to Anderson.
Instead Nemkov (16-2 MMA, 8-0 BMMA) and Anderson (16-6 MMA, 3-1 BMMA) ran it back in the Bellator 288 headliner at Wintrust Arena, where Nemkov successfully defended his title with a sound unanimous decision win. The result was largely on account of two major factors: Nemkov outstruck Anderson and also stuffed each one of his takedowns over the course of 25 minutes.
“(Anderson) had a decent outing but not enough to beat Nemkov,” Coker said. “It was Nemkov’s night. I thought it was a very technical fight, went back and forth. There were some good exchanges, but I think Nemkov clearly won.”
Anderson, who had a three-fight unbeaten streak snapped, made it clear before Bellator 288 that winning the right way mattered – which is why he spoke up about the accidental clash of heads in the moment. But Anderson certainly didn’t have to do that. If he didn’t, he’d be $1 million richer.
Coker said it’s likely Bellator would’ve booked a rematch in that scenario, as well. And even though Nemkov has a scheduled Feb. 4 title defense against Yoel Romero at Bellator 290, Coker already can see a Nemkov-Anderson trilog happening in the future.
“Absolutely. I mean, maybe it would’ve been a rematch (at Bellator 288), and the tournament would’ve been over, but I think this is a fight that maybe we might run it back another time down the line,” Coker said. “Let’s see how those guys do. Nemkov has a big fight against Yoel Romero on Feb. 4 in Los Angeles on CBS, which we’re really excited about. I think he’s gonna be busy. But let’s see how these guys run the division and when they can end up meeting again.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for Bellator 288.