Corey Anderson unfazed that he didn’t draw marquee name: ‘All organizations have great fighters’

Farah Hannoun and Nolan King
·2 min read

UNCASVILLE, Conn. – Corey Anderson may have drawn the least notable name in the current Bellator light heavyweight grand prix, but his goal remains the same.

In the opening round of the tournament, Anderson meets Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov in the co-main event of Bellator 257 on Friday.

Yagshimuradov (18-5-1 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) is relatively unknown to even hardcore fans and certainly doesn’t have the name value of UFC veterans such as Anthony Johnson or Yoel Romero, who are also in th grand prix. But Anderson (14-5 MMA, 1-0 BMMA), who initially admitted he had to do a Google search of his opponent, knows that Yagshimuradov belongs and is in the tournament for a reason.

“All organizations have great fighters,” Anderson told MMA Junkie on Wednesday. “Over at ACA where he was, he was a great fighter there, so now he gets to come showcase his skills here. I don’t think anybody in the world matches up with my skills. That’s just the way you’ve got to be when you step in the cage.

“We train to be the best. We don’t train to be mediocre. We don’t train to get by. You train to dominate everybody. Now, can he compete in the 205 division? Yes. Can he compete with me? I don’t believe so, and Friday I’m going to show you why.”

As he looks to progress in the Bellator grand prix, Anderson will look to mirror some of the success he had in the UFC, where he was a top-ranked light heavyweight contender. During his almost four-year tenure with the promotion, “The Ultimate Fighter 19” winner was able to score big wins over the likes of current UFC light heavyweight champ Jan Blachowicz and top contender Glover Teixeira.

So after notching a second-round finish of Melvin Manhoef in his Bellator debut, Anderson is looking to do more of the same against Yagshimuradov.

“Keys to victory for me is like it is in every fight,” Anderson said. “I was watching my UFC fights this morning, all the fights I won and dominated, it was always a simple gameplan. Nothing crazy, nothing fancy. Do me, keep the pressure, work the fakes, work the hands, work the kicks, work the takedowns. Use everything. Be a mixed martial artist. Don’t go out there, be a striker. Don’t go out there, be a wrestler. Put everything together, mix it up and that’s how you come away with the ‘W.'”

Bellator 257 takes place at Mohegan Sun Arena. The main card airs on Showtime following prelims on MMA Junkie.

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