Vadim Nemkov eyeing rematch with Ryan Bader to avenge Fedor Emelianenko: “I have to beat him”

By Josh Evanoff - June 29, 2023

Bellator light-heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov again has his eyes on Ryan Bader, but not for himself.

Vadim Nemkov and Ryan Bader.

The Russian is fresh off his return in the main event of Bellator 297 earlier this month. There, he faced Yoel Romero, who was riding a two-fight winning streak. However, the 46-year-old proved to be no match for Vadim Nemkov, as the champion retained his title by unanimous decision.

Since the fight, the light-heavyweight titleholder has been vocal about a potential heavyweight move. If Vadim Nemkov moves up, he will likely encounter Ryan Bader. ‘Darth’ has been out of the cage since his rematch with Fedor Emelianenko earlier this year. There, he defeated ‘The Last Emperor’ by first-round knockout, his second win over the legend.

That knockout win makes the potential rematch a very important one for Vadim Nemkov. In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, the champion discussed a fight against Ryan Bader. It’s worth noting that the two previously clashed at light-heavyweight in 2020, with the Russian winning by knockout.

Now, as the main trainee of Fedor Emelianenko, the second fight is much more important than the first. In the interview, Vadim Nemkov admitted that a potential rematch with Ryan Bader is for his team, and not for himself.


Vadim Nemkov and Scott Coker

Image via Bellator.

“It’s something to discuss with my team, to see if the time to do it is now,” Vadim Nemkov stated of a potential heavyweight move. “As I get older, it becomes more difficult to cut weight. I feel so much more powerful when I train at a heavyweight weight… I’m fighting not only for myself, but also for my team. If we fight, I have to beat him, no matter what.”

He continued, “… All the hard work is paying off. I’m representing Fedor’s team, so it means a lot to have someone from Fedor’s team rank first in the pound-for-pound [list].”

What do you make of these comments? Do you want to see Vadim Nemkov vs. Ryan Bader 2?


Bellator Ryan Bader Vadim Nemkov