Before the main event took place, there was a debate as to whether Ryan Bader is the best light heavyweight today. One of the only things that could have affected his status was the three-year absence from the division. That appeared to be the case, as the faster Vadim Nemkov outstruck “Darth” Bader.
At Bellator 244, Nemkov (12-2) took out Bader (27-6, 1 NC) via TKO in the second round to become the new Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion. Bader now only holds the Bellator Heavyweight Title, while Nemkov became the first Russian fighter to win the light heavyweight title.
Both fighters came out hot right out of the gate. Bader would land combination shots but Nemkov would counter with a shot that pushed Bader back. A main factor in the fight was Bader looking to move forward but Nemkov repeatedly pushed him back. That was something unfamiliar to Bader, as it distracted him from having any sort of advantage.
Nemkov would continue his attack with a hook and a leg kick. His speed played a factor in the fight as the announce team questioned whether Bader’s three years away at heavyweight may have slowed him down. Bader would miss key shots but was able to grab a takedown to relax the pacing. Back on the feet right away, however, Nemkov would shake off an overhand shot and land kick combinations.
As round two began, Bader tried again to push Nemkov back. Nemkov would hit a hard kick to the side and a few combination shots. A small eye poke to Bader paused the fight for a brief moment, but it would not help the champion. Bader landed a jab, but Nemkov would hit a punch and a huge leg kick. A down Bader was getting tagged by Nemkov, to the point that one clear shot felt like it could have ended the fight.
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Bader, however, was able to get up at several points. It also helped that referee Kerry Hatley was being extremely generous when it came to giving Bader a chance. Nemkov continued with the attack, and Hatley eventually had no choice but to stop the fight.
In total, Nemkov landed 50 strikes (41 punches landed) compared to Bader’s seven with three punches landed.
Nemkov has now won seven fights in a row, and five with Bellator. The multi-time Sambo world champion has nine wins via knockout. Bader is now 1-1 with one no-contest in his last three fights. His eight-fight unbeaten streak, which started in 2016, has come to an end.