Bellator President Scott Coker favors a rematch between Phil Davis and champ Vadim Nemkov for the next light heavyweight title fight, though he expects to make a final decision in the next few weeks.
“I think that’s kind of the way we’re leaning toward,” Coker told MMA Fighting on Tuesday.
Also factoring in to Bellator’s plans is current heavyweight champ Ryan Bader, who ceded the lightweight title to Nemkov in August in a lopsided TKO loss. Coker favors Bader defending his heavyweight belt, but he said he’ll leave it up to the former two-division champ when they next speak.
“It’s going to be depending on what division he wants to fight, but to me, him fighting at heavyweight seems attractive,” Bader said. “But he might have an urge in his stomach to have a rematch, and I’m not sure what’s important to him. So we’ll talk to him and figure it out.”
Then there’s a strong title prospect in recent acquisition Corey Anderson, who stopped Melvin Manhoef in his promotional debut after leaving the UFC earlier this year. Anderson anticipated fighting the winner of Davis vs. Nemkov 2, though he also pushed for a title shot.
Coker said he’s open to the prospect, but Anderson’s opportunity may not arrive immediately.
“Corey looked amazing against Melvin, and Corey will definitely get a title shot,” Coker said. “But we might have him fight one more time before he gets a title shot, and I think that that’s fair.
“I think you’ve got to put Phil Davis in the mix with him beating [Lyoto] Machida and coming off a win streak. He’s been doing extremely well. He had an extremely close fight – a lot closer than Bader’s fight – with Nemkov in Israel.
“So I think that we’ll have to wait and see how we put it together. But right now, whether it’s Bader, or Anderson, or Davis, those are the three names that are floating around.”
Davis outpointed Machida via split call in September, picking up his second win over the former UFC champ after another decision inside the octagon. In his first meeting with Nemkov, he won the fight via 29-28 score on one judges’ scorecard, while the two remaining judges had it for the current champ by the same score.
Nemkov is three months’ removed from his title win over Bader, which came in the second round with a head kick that rocked the two-division champion and a flurry of punches that invited a stoppage sooner than the official call.
As of now, the 28-year-old Russian champ is on a seven-fight win streak. Waiting in the wings are a line of strong challengers.