The grand prix is set to touch down in Arizona.
MMA Fighting confirmed with officials that two huge Bellator light heavyweight bouts are set to take place at Footprint Center in Phoenix on Oct. 16 as champion Vadim Nemkov fights Anthony “Rumble” Johnson, and Ryan Bader takes on Corey Anderson. These fights will serve as the semifinals of the ongoing Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix.
ESPN was first to report the bouts. All four fighters have known who their upcoming opponents will be since winning their quarterfinal matchups earlier this year.
Nemkov is currently the No. 5 light heavyweight in MMA Fighting’s Global Rankings, with Bader, Anderson, and Johnson coming in at No. 7, No. 10, and No. 15, respectively.
For Nemkov (14-2), this will be the second defense of his light heavyweight championship. He defeated Bader by second-round TKO last August to claim the belt, then successfully defended it via unanimous decision against Phil Davis in April. Nemkov is 6-0 in Bellator competition.
Johnson (23-6) made a successful return to action this past May when he defeated Jose Augusto by second-round KO. The two-time UFC light heavyweight title challenger fought for the first time since announcing a retirement in 2017.
Bader (28-6, 1 NC) advanced to the grand prix semifinals with a one-sided unanimous decision win over Lyoto Machida at Bellator 256, avenging a loss to “The Dragon” dating back to August 2012. A former two-division champion in Bellator, Bader still holds the heavyweight championship after losing his light heavyweight title to Nemkov.
Since debuting with Bellator in November of last year, Anderson (15-5) has gone 2-0 with TKO victories over Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov and Melvin Manhoef. The former UFC contender has won six of his past seven fights.
The winners of the Oct. 16 matchups will face off in the grand prix finals with the eventual tournament winner not only claiming the Bellator light heavyweight championship, but a $1,000,000 prize as well.
Bellator’s Oct. 16 event marks the promotion’s return to Phoenix for the first time since Sept. 26, 2014, for Bellator 126, a card headlined by Brandon Halsey defeating Alexander Shlemenko for the middleweight championship.