Despite his dominance over six fights in the Bellator cage, light heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov (14-2) remains an under-the-radar star on the promotion’s roster. His Bellator 268 opponent Julius Anglickas (10-1) believes there are specific reasons the champ has a Fedor Emelianenko-like mystique surrounding him, and that lack of spotlight is a major benefit for the Russian talent.
The 29-year-old Nemkov has been outstanding in his short run in Bellator. In no time he has gone from relative unknown to the 205-pound division’s best fighter. As he added former champions, Ryan Bader, Phil Davis, Rafael Carvalho, and Liam McGeary to his career hit list. However, the spotlight hasn’t grown brighter after notable success in the biggest media market in the world. He isn’t likely to be the first name that comes to mind for Bellator fans when listing off the biggest stars in the promotion.
Julius Anglickas on Fedor-like mystique of Vadim Nemkov
Fifth-ranked light heavyweight, and Nemkov’s Grand Prix semifinals opponent, Anglickas admits there is some mystery that encircles Nemkov. Similar to his mentor, former PRIDE FC heavyweight champion Emelianenko, being a Russian-based talent for an American fight organization has some unique advantages.
“I do feel he’s maybe not [heavily] talked about because he’s from Russia. It’s hard to get a hold of him. You’re not going to be flying media there all the time. And I don’t think he speaks much English, so that’s another obstacle. And in a way, I think that’s an advantage for him,” Anglickas told MixedMartialArts.com. “He just focuses on what he’s got to do. The media’s not bothering him 24-7. People know he’s dangerous. People know he’s a champion. But there is that little bit of mystique. Like, what’s there? Same thing with Fedor, like what’s going on, what’s happening [with him]? … and it definitely adds a plus for him.”
Anglickas wants to impose his will on the champ in Bellator 268 headliner
Although some fans may not be fully aware of how talented Nemkov is, the 30-year-old title challenger is very cognizant of the monumental task in front of him on Oct. 16, inside the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. The former LFA light heavyweight champion considers Nemkov to be his toughest test to date because he’s such a well-rounded threat.
Although he says Nemkov’s kicks are a major strength of his attack, focusing on them would be a poor fight night strategy. In the end, the plan needs to be about being offensive and forcing the Russian to react and deal with what he brings to bear, instead of the other way around.
“He’s definitely going to be my toughest fight. He mixes everything up and it’s gonna be a crazy fight. He always feints with his hands. His hands are good. His hands are always involved, but I think his kicks, they’re heavy. They chop [and] slow people down. And eventually, he comes up top. like he did with Bader. So, I think kicks are the main thing, and he sets them up well. It’s almost like you have to address everything. You can’t just address the kicks. You have to address the feints that he does to set up the kicks,” says Anglickas.
“You can’t stop everything. I can’t be looking for the leg kick [and] waiting for it because he’ll come up with something else. So I just have to impose my will on him versus waiting on him too much. If I go and see something as I’m doing my thing, and I react to a feint or a kick, I just have to impose my will that much more and make him pay for it. I can’t be waiting on him too much. I’m not saying I’m gonna be going at him the whole time. I definitely can’t have him fight his fight. … I’m kind of excited to see where I’m at with [someone of his level] and how I deal with all of that.”
Bellator 268 takes place on Saturday night, with the main card airing exclusively on Showtime at 10 pm ET. Along with the light heavyweight championship semifinal main event bout between Anglickas and Nemkov, the card’s co-main event features the other Grand Prix semifinal bout. Pitting perennial contender Corey Anderson versus former division king Ryan Bader.