Five Stars of Bellator 182

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Last night was a solid night of action as Bellator MMA touched down in Verona, New York for ‘Bellator 182: Koreshkov vs. Njokuani’.

Five Stars of Bellator 182

With nine prelim fights before the four-fight main card, it’s not easy to pick the five standout performances from the show, but I’m gonna try to do it anyway!

1. Andrey Koreshkov (20-2)

Former welterweight champion Koreshkov absolutely mauled Chidi “Bang” Njokuani on his way to a first round TKO win in the night’s main event.

The fight ended after a huge onslaught of vicious ground-and-pound from RusFighters MMA‘s Koreshkov. He dropped elbows into the guard of Njokuani, but referee “Big” John McCarthy had no choice but to step in and stop the fight, as Chidi clearly had no answer.

Koreshkov is a legitimate Top 10 welterweight in the world. Though 1-1 against current welterweight champion Douglas Lima, in his last outing before the Chidi bout; Koreshkov was handily beating Lima before making a small mistake and getting KO’d by the always dangerous Brazilian.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Andrey Koreshkov def. Chidi Njokuani via TKO (Strikes) at 4:08 of Round 1.

This improved his Bellator MMA record to a stellar 11-2 w/ the only two losses being due to Douglas Lima and Ben Askren in title fights.

Considering the next title fight will probably be Lima vs. Rory MacDonald, Koreshkov likely has his eyes on the upcoming welterweight match-up between Paul Daley and Lorenz Larkin at Bellator 183.

2. Vadim Nemkov (8-2)

At just 25-years-old, heavy-handed Russian fighter Vadim Nemkov was almost certain to make waves in Bellator MMA once his signing was announced.

He has won three-straight knocking out Mikołaj Różanski in FNG and Alison Vicente in RIZIN prior to making his Bellator MMA debut last night at Bellator 182. At one point, Philipe Lins was consdered as a potential title-challenger in Bellator MMA, so this wasn’t the easiest debut a fighter could have in the promotion at light heavyweight.

The two engaged each other relatively quickly, both landing some solid shots. Three minutes into round one Nemkov landed a picture-perfect right hand on the chin of Lins. The shot sent the Nova Uniao fighter toppling to the canvas and all it took from Nemkov was two heavy follow-up shots to a grounded Lins to make him visibly lose consciousness.

Nemkov brought his crisp boxing and Fedor-esque ground-and-pound attack to Bellator MMA in a big way last night. And at just 25-years-old, the sky is the limit for Stary Oskol’s own.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Vadim Nemkov def. Philipe Lins via KO (Punches) at 3:03: of Round 1.

3. AJ McKee (9-0)

Last night featured another damn near flawless performance on behalf of Team Bodyshop MMA prospect AJ McKee.

Opening up the main card of Bellator 182, McKee took on Ultimate MMA’s Blair “Bull Shark” Tugman.

AJ McKee was dominant from the jump, completely controlling the action on the feet early. He attacked the lead leg of Tugman before throwing some powerful flashy kicks to the head. Tugman attempted to get the fight to the mat but McKee easily defended and held the wrestler in a front-headlock position for a while before they made their way back to the feet.

McKee really took control in the second round, stunning Tugman early. Throughout the round, McKee continued to work on the legs of Tugman. By the end of the round Tugman was visibly affected by the kicks. In round three, it was more of the same. McKee was cruising to a decision win but Tugman briefly attacked with a guillotine. With all the sweat on both men and the blood covering Tugman’s face, McKee easily slipped out and was on route to an easy unanimous decision win.

OFFICIAL RESULT: AJ McKee def. Blair Tugman via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26)

The win was dominant, but that alone is not why McKee was put on this list. The biggest factor is that, at just 22-years-old, AJ McKee is now tied for the most consecutive wins in Bellator MMA history w/ nine. He is tied with former longtime welterweight champion Ben Askren.

Pretty incredible feat considering McKee’s young age in the sport. Post-fight he continued to express interest in fighting James Gallagher.

4. Talita Nogueira (7-0)

In a division as shallow as women’s featherweight, fighters like Talita Nogueira are a breath of fresh air.

Unfortunately, she has been plagued with injuries over the past few years. Before last night she had not fought since December of 2013. Her Bellator MMA debut has been in the works since February of 2015, but it continuously fell through. Last night on the prelims of Bellator 182, it finally happened. And it may have even been worth the wait!

Nogueira fought a streaking Amanda Bell. Dubbed “The Lady Killer”, Bell is known for her knockout power and willingness to brawl. The two exchanged strikes early on, but the second they got to the mat, it was a no contest.

Nogueira imposed her will and worked her way into a very slick rear naked choke. The tap came in under four minutes and it was a massive debut for the Gracie Fusion fighter. Current Bellator MMA Women’s Featherweight Champion; Julia Budd was in attendance for the event, which featured two pivotal divisional matchups. In the other, Arlene Blencowe narrowly defeated Sinead Kavanagh by split decision.

Comparing the Blencowe win with the Nogueira win, it seems as though Nogueira made the much bigger statement. In her first fight outside of Brazil, Talita Nogueira entered the Bellator MMA ranks riding massive hype, and she delivered on all fronts.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Talita Nogueira def. Amanda Bell via Submission (RNC) at 3:44 of Round 1. 

5. Joey Davis (2-0)

Bellator MMA has done an incredible job at picking up high-level collegiate wrestling talent over the past two years.

When it is known that you’re entering the MMA ranks with the wrestling background that these guys have, the expectations are high. Maybe even unfairly high at times. You are expected to come in, get the takedown and absolutely batter your opponent. Whether it be for 15-25 minutes, or whether it be for 40-seconds en route to a quick TKO win. People expect great things from these wrestlers.

Guys like Ed Ruth and Logan Storley have lived up to those expectations consistently. Last night at Bellator 182, Joey Davis did exactly what people expect a wrestler to do, opening up the prelim portion of the card and starching Justin Roswell.

It’s no secret that “Black Ice” is a gifted athlete. If his four NCAA Div II championships don’t show that, maybe his 133-0 record as an amateur wrestler will. He trains alongside AJ McKee at Team Bodyshop MMA in California.

He entered Bellator 182 with a record of 1-0, having picked up a dominant UD over Keith Cutrone exactly one-year ago at Bellator 160. Returning to the cage, right out of the gate Davis took Roswell to the mat and pummeled him. Bloodying the Team Alpha Male fighter with nasty elbows while on top. The stoppage came just 95-seconds into the first round, with Davis barely breaking a sweat in the process.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Joey Davis def. Justin Roswell via TKO (Elbow) at 1:35 of Round 1.

It was an incredible showing that saw Joey Davis do – literally – exactly what was expected of him.

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