Russia now has a light heavyweight world champion. Vadim Nemkov became the first Russian fighter to earn a major MMA promotion’s light heavyweight title.
Nemkov took out the two-division champ Ryan Bader in the second round via TKO in a shocking upset.
Before making the walk to the cage, Nemkov spoke to reporters about the importance of becoming the person to achieve the feat for his homeland.
Nemkov, a protege of Fedor Emelianenko, was not interested on avenging Fedor’s loss to Bader but was more focused on winning the title.
“When I was training for this fight, I was actually mentally preparing for the historic value of the fight being the first Russian, not to just win, but to fight for a major 205-pound title,” Nemkov told reporters through an interpreter at the post-event news conference. “I feel like I made history – a small part of history.”
— Scott Coker (@ScottCoker) August 22, 2020
“I feel like with all the changes going on in the 205-pound division and the caliber of opponent I just beat (the guy is a two-time champion in two different weight classes), I feel like I’m No. 1 right now,” Nemkov said.
“To back up why I’m saying this, I didn’t just go through five rounds of a fight. I finished a top, top contender in decisive manner in two rounds. I feel like I’m No. 1.”
Jon Jones, who vacated his title, took to Twitter to congratulate Nemkov.
“I just want to thank him,” Nemkov said. “It means a lot to hear, especially from such a legend as Jon Jones.”
Nemkov has his eyes locked on the next opponent he thinks the winner of the Sept. 11 fight between Lyoto Machida and Phil Davis makes sense.
“The situation is a little unclear right now,” Nemkov said. “Machida is fighting Phil Davis, so I’d say probably the winner of that fight will be my first title defense.
I know Corey Anderson just signed, but I feel like it’d be wrong for him to get a title shot coming over from the UFC. I feel like he should probably have a fight before that. At the end of the day, I’ll fight whoever they put in front of me.”