Bellator 288: Nemkov vs. Anderson 2 Preview

Vadim Nemkov and Corey Anderson pose at Bellator's ceremonial weigh-ins.
Vadim Nemkov and Corey Anderson will face off for the second time this Friday (Bellator MMA / Lucas Noonan)

There was no true winner after Vadim Nemkov and Corey Anderson met for the first time. A no-contest result to their Bellator Light Heavyweight Championship fight meant nobody was crowned the winner of the promotion’s eight-man 205-pound bracket, and neither fighter got to walk away with a $1 million grand prize.

This weekend looks to possibly deliver some answers. Nemkov and Anderson will meet for the second time this Friday, headlining Bellator 288 from the Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Illinois, USA. Just like last time, the fight does have Nemkov’s title on the line, and a $1 million prize is at stake once again.

The card is scheduled to also have 12 other bouts, including a lightweight title bout between Patricky Pitbull and undefeated Usman Nurmagomedov. Here’s a full preview of the evening.

Click here to skip to a preview of the main card.

Preliminary Card (6:00PM EST / 5:00PM CST) (Youtube)

Bout 1: Wladmir Gouvea (0-0) vs. Kory Moegenburg (2-4) (Heavyweight)

Wladmir Gouvea will make his MMA debut on the prelims against Kory Moegenburg.

There is little information online regarding Gouvea. Fight database Tapology says that he is training out of the prominent MMA gym AKA. He is moving to MMA without any fights as an amateur.

Moegenburg will be making his second Bellator appearance. He currently holds a negative pro record of two wins and four losses. His last fight was just two months ago, when Thomas Peterson stopped him with ground and pound strikes.

Bout 2: Isaiah Hokit (1-1) vs. Matias Nader (3-0) (Featherweight)

Coming off his first win, Isaiah Hokit will face Matias Nader on the prelims.

Hokit scored his first MMA victory in February, submitting Theodore Macuka in the first round with a rear naked choke. This put him back into the win column after a disastrous debut in 2021, getting stopped in just 10 seconds due to strikes.

Nader will be making his first Bellator appearance. He is getting the call-up after scoring three consecutive first-round finish wins since his 2020 debut.

Bout 3: Laird Anderson (2-0) vs. Rob Fenicle (2-2) (Featherweight)

Featherweight prospect Laird Anderson will take on Rob Fenicle as part of Friday’s undercard.

Anderson has earned two wins as a pro. His first victory came back in 2018. He ended a long break from competition earlier this year, submitting JT Donaldson for his second victory. This was an extensive break, but it’s worth noting that Anderson is still only 24 years old.

Fenicle will be returning to Bellator in this appearance. His sole Bellator fight was an impressive victory, scoring a heel hook submission over Bryan Bautista in 2019. He has not been as successful on the regional scene as of late, suffering two consecutive defeats this year.

Bout 4: Jordan Newman (4-0) vs. Jayden Taulker (2-2) (Middleweight)

Undefeated Jordan Newman will return this weekend to face Jayden Taulker.

Newman’s venture in MMA has been successful thus far. He picked up his fourth victory in February this year, going the distance against Cody Herbert for a decision victory.

Taulker will be looking to bounce back from a few losses. He suffered a finish loss in MMA in May. Along with this defeat, Taulker has dropped two fights in boxing this year as well.

Bout 5: Sullivan Cauley (4-0) vs. Jay Radick (3-0) (Light Heavyweight)

Finish-heavy light heavyweight prospect Sullivan Cauley will meet fellow undefeated talent Jay Radick next.

Cauley has been on the Bellator roster since late 2020. He has finished every fight since then in the first round due to strikes. His last bout, which came against Tyson Jeffries, saw him end the fight in just under two minutes.

Radick will be returning to MMA in this fight, competing for the first time since August 2019. He has similarly finished all three of his previous opponents in the first round when with regional promotion CageSport.

Bout 6: Archie Colgan (5-0) vs. Jesse Hannam (2-1) (Lightweight)

Searching for his third win from this year alone, Archie Colgan will fight Jesse Hannam.

Colgan has quickly put together a record of five wins since his early 2021 debut. This now includes a pair of Bellator victories, including a July finish win over Bryan Nuro.

Hannam seems to be a much less successful and experienced opponent. His first win came against an opponent with one win and 41 losses. The other was against someone who was winless at the time of the fight.

Bout 7: Killys Mota (13-3) vs. Jairo Pacheco (7-0) (Lightweight)

Bellator vet Killys Mota will meet rising lightweight prospect Jairo Pacheco on the prelims.

Mota has fought for Bellator a total of four times since 2019. He snapped a two-fight skid in his last outing, beating Dan Moret via unanimous decision.

Pacheco is entering the Bellator roster with a flawless record of seven wins. His last appearance was as part of an LFA card in Brazil, where he stopped Rhalber Bernardo in the second round with strikes.

Bout 8: Imamshafi Aliev (8-0) vs. Sean Connor Fallon (16-7) (Middleweight)

In another high-profile debut on this card, Imamshafi Aliev will meet Sean Connor Fallon to close out the prelims.

Aliev has built up his record in notable promotions like UAE Warriors and Eagle FC. His last victory took place just three months ago when he submitted Khayla Iskenderov.

Fallon has an experience advantage in this fight. He brings into Bellator a three-fight winning streak, which has all come via submission in the regional promotion B2 Fighting Series.

Main Card (9:00PM EST / 8:00PM CST) (Showtime)

Bout 9: Roman Faraldo (8-0) vs. Levan Chokheli (10-2) (Welterweight)

Flashy welterweight Roman Faraldo will kick off the main card against Levan Chokheli.

Faraldo has never gone the distance as a pro. Five of those victories have taken place in the Bellator cage since November 2020. His fighting time in 2022 thus far has equaled a combined less than one round, putting away Kelvin Rayford and Luis Iniguez with strikes early on.

Chokheli has struggled somewhat since entering Bellator last year. He has won just one of his three appearances in the promotion. His last fight came against veteran Goiti Yamauchi, who submitted him in the first round with an armbar.

Bout 10: Tyrell Fortune (12-2) vs. Daniel James (13-6-1) (Heavyweight)

Experienced Bellator talent Tyrell Fortune will meet Daniel James next.

Fortune’s entire 14-fight career has taken place in Bellator. He bounced back from his second pro defeat in April, putting away veteran Rakim Cleveland in the second minute with punches. His previous fight was a split decision loss to Linton Vassell.

James is appearing for the first time since a six-fight run with ACA. He exited the promotion with some momentum, putting together three consecutive wins from 2021 to 2022.

Bout 11: Daniel Weichel (42-13) vs. Timur Khizriev (11-0) (Featherweight)

Timur Khizriev will get a tough challenge in his Bellator debut, facing Daniel Weichel on Friday’s main card.

Khizriev has fought as a pro since 2014. During this time he has gone undefeated, mostly picking up decision results. He notably appeared in the promotion AMC Fight Nights twice before joining Bellator.

Weichel is way more experienced than any opponent that Khizriev has faced before. For reference: the combined amount of fights for Khizriev’s previous opponents adds up to 56. That is just one more fight than the pro record of Weichel alone.

Weichel has flipped between wins and losses in his last six fights. This weekend he’s aiming to build off the momentum of a 72-second finish that he scored against Robert Whiteford in May.

Bout 12: Patricky Pitbull (24-10) vs. Usman Nurmagomedov (15-0) (Bellator Lightweight Championship)

Patricky Pitbull will aim to keep his first reign as champion going this weekend when he takes on undefeated contender Usman Nurmagomedov.

Pitbull became champion just over a year ago, stopping Peter Queally in the second round of a fight at Bellator 270. This bout snapped a two-fight skid for Pitbull and avenged a loss he took six months prior against Queally.

Pitbull was able to challenge for the belt after his brother, Patricio Pitbull, vacated the belt that year. Now with a title for the first time in his 23-fight promotional run, Pitbull will aim to defend it when he faces Nurmagomedov.

Nurmagomedov’s career has been a flawless 15 wins so far. He has shot up the Bellator rankings since joining the promotion in early 2021, earning four victories. His last three wins in particular have stood out, as they all came in the first round via finish.

Nurmagomedov’s last fight was in July when he submitted fellow Bellator prospect Chris Gonzalez in the first round with a front choke. He will now get a big step up in competition this weekend but will become a champion if successful.

Bout 13: Vadim Nemkov (15-2) vs. Corey Anderson (16-5) (Bellator Light Heavyweight Championship)

After their first meeting provided an unsatisfying result, Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion Vadim Nemkov and Corey Anderson will meet for the second time on Friday’s main event.

Nemkov and Anderson originally met in April during the grand final of Bellator’s Light Heavyweight Grand Prix. Their close fight came to a sudden end late in the third round due to an accidental clash of heads. The decision was made for the fight to end due to this injury, with a no contest being the official result.

Not only did this outcome leave the tournament without a proper ending, but it put a stop to Anderson’s strong run up the light heavyweight ranks.

Anderson, a former UFC contender, had a three-fight winning streak in Bellator prior to the grand prix final. Earlier tournament bouts saw him stop Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov and current heavyweight champion Ryan Bader with strikes. Before then, he also beat Melvin Manhoef in his Bellator debut. Anderson will have yet another chance this weekend to claim a major MMA belt for the first time in his career but will have to do so against a name that has enjoyed a much longer successful Bellator career.

Nemkov has yet to lose since entering Bellator in 2017. He was given a title shot in 2020 against Bader after putting together four consecutive wins. He made quick work of Bader in that fight, putting him away in the second round with punches.

Nemkov continued to defend his belt through the early stages of the Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix. He went a total of five rounds against Phil Davis to win via unanimous decision in the quarter-finals. Then later in 2021, Nemkov submitted short-notice opponent Julius Anglickas in the fourth round via kimura.

Nemkov could continue his dominant Bellator career this weekend. Or, it could be a former UFC talent that reaches the apex of his quick ascent up a division.

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