The decision to depart from the UFC after nearly seven years of competition was a welcome move for former divisional staple, Corey Anderson. An even better move was immediately signing with Bellator MMA, in what was widely considered mutually beneficial because Anderson would bolster their light heavyweight division and Bellator would receive a well-known name for their expanding roster.
Anderson made his promotional debut at Bellator 251 and knocked out Melvin Manhoef in the second round of their fight. It was after this performance that many believed Anderson could be in the running for a potential title shot against light heavyweight champion, Vadim Nemkov. While it appears Anderson may have to fight at least one more time for that fight to be made, there is no shortage of opponents for him to face, especially in light of recent high-profile signings.
Bellator has acquired names like Yoel Romero and Anthony Johnson for its 205-pound division. Those names and the level of competition that comes with them is enough for Anderson to believe that his promotion has the best light heavyweight division in MMA.
“I just feel right now Bellator has the upper hand,” Anderson told Damon Martin of MMA Fighting. “[Jon] Jones has left. They’ve got these hype trains. These young guys UFC has coming in they’re trying to hype up but I feel like their legitimacy aren’t like the vets that were there that are in Bellator now.”
Anderson further elaborated on why the signings of Romero and Johnson were so important for Bellator and its goal of creating a stronger light heavyweight roster. He compares the situation to himself in that just because they were no longer with the UFC did not automatically mean they were not competitive anymore.
All three of those names have either competed for, or came close, to a shot at a UFC title during their careers. Anderson believes that makes for a more dangerous playing field in this division.
“These last two signings they made definitely made it a stronger case,” said Anderson. “At first, I was in the UFC and I was No. 4 when I left. The only person I hadn’t fought was Jon Jones and Dominick Reyes. I had beat Jan Blachowicz once and Anthony Smith was above me but we see where Anthony Smith’s at now. He just got first win in a while against an unranked guy.
“Then you’ve got me, Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson, Yoel Romero, two guys right there that fought for titles. Me, who was on the cusp of a title. Then you’ve got Nemkov, who just beat Ryan Bader. You’ve got ‘Rumble,’ who beat Ryan Bader. You’ve got Phil Davis. You’ve got all these names who have already fought at the top of the UFC.”
Anderson currently awaits his second fight under the Bellator banner.