Nemkov hobbled Anderson with leg kicks and denied all 15 takedown attempts from Anderson, taking home 48-47, 49-46 and 49-46 scores to win the Bellator light heavyweight grand prix for a $1 million payout.
“I was well prepared,” Nemkov said afterward via translator. “I wasn’t distracted, and I kept a very high pace. Like I said, in rematches, I never lose, and you guys didn’t believe me.”
Anderson kept the pressure high, trying to strike his way into takedown opportunities. Every time he got close, Nemkov was ready for his single-leg setups and leg traps. That left Anderson to slug it out, and Nemkov took an early lead with better distance management. A stiff jab and a step-in one-two repeatedly scored, and a wheel kick dropped Anderson at the end of the first.
For the second straight fight, Nemkov and Anderson clashed heads as Anderson ducked for takedowns. This time, however, there was no cut to cut things short as in their first fight, which delayed the Bellator grand prix. Anderson had been winning the first fight – on the second occasion, he was repeatedly a step behind.
A calf kick in Round 4 didn’t help matters at all for the American, who kept a brave face as his leg stiffened from more punishment. He ended the fight much as he spent the rest of it, in pursuit and taking counters from his more accurate opponent.
Nurmagomedov freezes Pitbull
The young Nurmagomedov sniped at distance before exploding into takedowns that left Pitbull unable to get much of any offense going. The final scores were 50-45 and 50-44 twice for the new Bellator lightweight champion, who extends his unbeaten record to 16-0 in his fifth appearance in the promotion.
Nurmagomedov nearly finished Pitbull early, ending the second round with a flurry of elbows that had the referee looking on closely. Pitbull shut down the subsequent shot in the third, but it wasn’t until the fifth round that he came alive. Urged in no uncertain terms by his brother, featherweight champ Patricio Pitbull, Patricky came forward and threw the most strikes of the fight. Unfortunately for him, that opened him up for the takedown, and he spent the next several minutes on his back, trying to avoid the worst. After giving up mount to avoid a choke, he managed to reverse position and make it back to his feet. One last gasp just wasn’t enough to catch Nurmagomedov, who smiled at his opponent and congratulated him.
One could imagine Khabib Nurmagomedov somewhere smiling, but thanks to Usman’s corner, UFC welterweight Abubakar Nurmagomedov, the retired UFC lightweight champion joined in his cousin’s celebration via FaceTime.
Khizriev holds off late surge from Weichel
Daniel Weichel needed to do something, and fast, after getting picked apart by Timur Khizriev on the feet for their first 10 minutes together. Unlike many of his Dagestani colleagues, Khizriev was more than comfortable on his feet and caught Weichel on the counter with regularity. With one round to work, Weichel got very close to turning the tables with a takedown and back-take; Khizriev was forced to defend his neck, leg (via Suloev stretch), and his arm. A flying knee that flubbed in the first two frames found its mark, and Khizriev wobbled backward. It was too little too late, however, and Khizriev hung in for the decision win. Two of three judges didn’t even give Weichel the credit for his late surge, offering unanimous scorecards for the Dagestani fighter via 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27.
James survives choke, breaks Fortune
Daniel James refused to be resume tinsel for Tyrell Fortune and stung the Bellator heavyweight vet early in the second round. James spent some time on the canvas early, the victim of Fortune’s formidable wrestling skills. When he tried to escape to his feet, Fortune set up a rear-naked choke and squeezed for dear life. James was perhaps seconds from going out, but his hand control allowed him to survive and reverse position. When they met in the center of the cage in the second round, an exchange of punches did not favor Fortune, and the right uppercut he took sent him to the canvas. A series of brutal follow-up elbows finished the job, and James had authored his improbable comeback, handing Fortune his second career knockout loss.
Chokheli takes Faraldo’s 0
Levan Chokheli exposed a gap in knockout artist Roman Faraldo’s skills, repeatedly taking him to the canvas when the action got too intense. Cage grabs kept Faraldo upright on several critical takedown attempts, but a second one cost him a point, and he wasn’t able to finish Chokheli. After rattling the Georgian in the second, Faraldo took mount and pounded away, only to run out of time. By the third, Faraldo was low on gas and walked straight into counters before giving up the easy takedown. Chokheli held top position and cruised to the finish line, earning unanimous 29-27 scores.
Chokheli got back in the win column after a setback against Goiti Yamauchi, while Faraldo suffered the first loss of his professional career after five straight finishes in the Bellator cage.
Full Bellator 288 results:
Vadim Nemkov def. Corey Anderson via unanimous decision (48-47, 49-46, 49-46)
Usman Nurmagomedov def. Patricky Pitbull via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-44, 50-44)
Timur Khizriev def. Daniel Weichel via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Daniel James def. Tyrell Fortune via TKO (elbows) - Round 2, 0:27
Levan Chokheli def. Roman Faraldo via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-27)
Imamshafi Aliev def. Sean Fallon via TKO (cut) - Round 1, 3:20
Killys Mota def. Jairo Pacheco via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Archie Colgan def. Jesse Hannam via TKO (punches) - Round 1, 0:50
Sullivan Cauley def. Jay Radick via KO (punches) - Round 1, 1:01
Jordan Newman def. Jayden Taulker via submission (rear-naked choke) - Round 2, 3:20
Laird Anderson def. Rob Fenicle via TKO (punches) - Round 2, 2:28
Isaiah Hokit def. Matias Nader via TKO (punches) - Round 2, 3:48
Wladmir Gouvea def. Kory Moegenburg via TKO (punches) - Round 2, 1:46