“Fedor’s Chances Are Very High” – Bellator’s Vadim Nemkov Talks Career Aspirations and Thoughts on Fedor vs. Mir

MMA has entered a fragmented era where talent is spread plentifully across more promotions than ever before. A large contingent responsible for this phenomenon is Russian combat sports, with the by-product being an abundance of Russian fighters competing in MMA. The hey days of Fedor Emelianenko may be long gone, but ‘The Last Emperor’ has paved a way for talented fighters who he has not only inspired but has had an active hand in training.

Scott Coker re-signed Fedor in 2016, this time for Bellator MMA, after the two worked together previously in the now-defunct Strikeforce. And with the stoic Russian came a number of talented fighters who Emelianenko had a primary role in the advancement of their respective careers. It wasn’t long before Fedor Team fighters Anatoly Tokov, Valentin Moldavsky and Vadim Nemkov joined their team patriarch, Fedor Emelianenko, on the North American promotion’s roster.

Speaking to the MMA Hour in 2017 Fedor noted this as a key reason as to why he took Coker up on his offer. “I received a very good offer from Bellator. In addition, Bellator invited my entire team. So all of the guys will be performing as well.” 

And thus the door was opened.

Vadim Nemkov (9-2) has taken advantage of this opportunity, managing two fights with Bellator since signing, being victorious in both. His most recent outing saw him defeat former light heavyweight champion Liam McGeary in a clinical performance. At only 25-years-old the ‘Belgorod Bruiser’ looks to be advancing himself into title contention despite a relatively short professional MMA career.

Nemkov’s mixed martial arts career isn’t the extent of his competitive career, though.

Despite only being 25 years old, Vadim Nemkov has established himself a successful career competing in both Sport Sambo and Combat Sambo, winning multiple championships across a number of different competitions. In recent years Nemkov has earned the gold on nine separate occasions. In Sport Sambo he won the Euros in 2014 and 2016, and the Worlds in 2014 and 2015. In Combat Sambo the Master of Sports has won four of the last five Russian Championships (finishing second in the fifth), while most recently earning the coveted Worlds in Combat Sambo in Sochi in 2017.

The plan for 2018 was to beat Liam McGeary at Bellator 194 then attend the 2018 Russian Championships in Khabarovsk over the weekend of March 2 to March 4. Unfortunately the Fedor Team standout picked up a debilitating foot injury after a wayward kick, forcing him to sit out the event. Speaking to MMA Today Vadim Nemkov confirmed his injury and unavailability for the Championships. “I missed the Russian championships this year because of the injury I received in the fight with McGeary.”

Fresh of of his career-high victory over McGeary, Nemkov set his sights on the next step of his Bellator career, naming Phil Davis as a fighter he would like to challenge next.

No sooner than the words had left Nemkov’s mouth Phil Davis was booked against hulking Brit Linton Vassell at Bellator’s showcase Bellator 200 card in London, England. With the Fedor Team fighter’s plans nixed Nemkov was forced to return to the drawing board, this time with a less defined choice of opponent. “Now that Phil Davis and Linton Vassell are fighting each other, I’d like to fight with any of Bellator’s best light heavyweights,” said Nemkov. “I would like to return to the cage in late spring or early summer. My career plans for 2018 are to fight more in MMA.” 

And of course, just as any fighter with the kind of competitive streak Nemkov has, he has one eye firmly on the championship. With current champion Ryan Bader locked into a heavyweight grand prix until May at the earliest and 2019 at worst, Nemkov’s route to the title has obstacles presently out of his control. That’s not to say he isn’t confident about taking the belt when his opportunity arises. “If I get the opportunity to fight for it I think my chances at winning the belt are real,” said Nemkov. “Our Fedor Team fighters put on entertaining fights and are interesting to watch.

(L to R) Viktor Nemkov; Valentin Moldavsky; Fedor Emelianenko, Vadim Nemkov; Kirill Sidelnikov; Anatoly Tokov | Fedor Team

And Nemkov’s thoughts on team patriarch Fedor Emelianenko’s chances of beating former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir were as stoic and direct as the PRIDE legend’s famed demeanour. “Fedor’s chances are very high, but he must win early.” Emelianenko fights Mir at Bellator 198 in April, where he looks to progress to the next bracket of Bellator’s heavyweight grand prix, which will determine the promotion’s new champion.

Nemkov is looking to progress his MMA career with Bellator to the highest stage. Dependent on circumstances we could see the Russian involved in a title fight before the year’s end. Nemkov has the talent to take him there, it just depends on how the chips fall for one of Fedor’s most skilled protégés.


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