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Bellator free fight: See how Vadim Nemkov earned his shot at the light heavyweight title

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The next time Vadim Nemkov steps into the Bellator cage, he’ll challenge for championship gold.

The Stary Oksol native is scheduled to take on two-division champion Ryan Bader for the light heavyweight title May 9 at Bellator 242, and the surging Russian contender will be hoping to replicate his form from Bellator 230 that earned him his title shot.

Nemkov took out former middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho in Milan as he put the brakes on the Brazilian’s hopes of moving up a division and earning a shot at his second Bellator strap, as he finished his man inside two rounds to stake his own claim for a shot at the gold.

Nemkov came out fast and imposed his gameplan on Carvalho from the start. A powerful head kick partially connected with the Brazilian and clearly affected the former 185-pound champ as Nemkov found his range early. When the fight went to the mat, the three-time Sambo world champion looked equally dominant, as he controlled Carvalho with relative ease. His overall dominance was cemented as the action returned to the feet at the end of the round as he sent the Brazilian back against the fence with a big straight right hand.

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Why Bellator champ-champ Ryan Bader values fight with rising prospect Vadim Nemkov

The fight was there for the taking, and Nemkov knew it. He came out for the second round looking confident but composed as he stuck to the gameplan that brought him success in Round 1. Once again, his striking was on point and too sharp for the muay Thai skills of Carvalho as he landed another big right hand then, after taking the Brazilian to the mat, he established his positioning, then moved to mount before hammering his man with punches and elbows.

That barrage of strikes eventually proved too much for Carvalho, who turned away from the onslaught and gave up his back. Nemkov didn’t need a second invitation and swiftly locked up a rear-naked choke to force the win at the 3:56 mark.

Nemkov’s dominant win against a man who had previously held the Bellator 185-pound title for two-and-a-half years proved he was a legitimate championship-caliber athlete, and a man who was ready to step up and challenge Bader for 205-pound gold.

You can watch the full fight in the video above.

Gallery

Photos: Bellator 2020 showcase in New York

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