Corey Anderson: Bellator fighter says his no-nonsense lifestyle is why he left UFC

Ryan Bader faces off with Corey Anderson in the cage
Corey Anderson, left, and Ryan Bader fight for a spot in the light heavyweight grand prix final
Venue: Footprint Center, Phoenix, Arizona Date: Saturday, 16 October (into Sunday, 17 October)
Coverage: Watch live coverage on BBC iPlayer from 23:55 BST, Saturday

Corey Anderson is enjoying a new chapter in his life after his surprise exit from UFC.

Anderson will face Ryan Bader at Bellator 268 on Saturday in the light heavyweight world grand prix semi-final after two fights and two dominant wins to start his Bellator career.

In August 2020, despite having headlined a UFC Fight Night six months earlier, Anderson, 32, left MMA’s biggest organisation with two fights left on his contract.

‘The higher ups in the UFC told me I just don’t move the needle and I’m not exciting,” said Anderson, who is nicknamed ‘Overtime’.

“I love it at Bellator. It’s very comforting and there’s no drama. There’s no politics and that’s the biggest thing. I go out there to do my job and I want to be rewarded for that and that’s it. At Bellator, I get that.

“When I first met [Bellator’s president] Scott Coker he said, ‘If you do what you are supposed to do and you win, then you will move forward’. Plain and simple.”

Anderson believes the nature of his lifestyle is the reason why the UFC and some fans did not rally behind him.

“I don’t post nonsense on Instagram,” he said.

“I’m not out here living a fake life. I’m a simple country boy from Rockford, Illinois. I grew up with 12 other people in my town. I still live the same way.

“I drive used vehicles and I wear used clothes. I don’t spend money because I’m not like that – I’m not flashy and people don’t like that.

“When you’ve got money they want to see this limelight, they want to see you act like a celebrity.

“I hate when people say, ‘oh you are a celebrity and you are famous.’ I shut them down and say stop, don’t say that. I’m no different to you and that’s the reason why I have never had a bunch of fans behind me. I continue just to be an average Joe.”

Corey Anderson punches his opponent right on the chin
Anderson is 2-0 in Bellator so far

Looking ahead to Bellator 268, Anderson does not believe fellow American Bader, 38, can beat him and says he has had his eye on facing the heavyweight champion since joining Bellator.

“He’s strong, he’s somewhat well rounded and he’s got decent hands but I feel like there are a lot of openings in his game,” Anderson said.

“When I joined Bellator he was the light heavyweight champion. So right away, the champion is always on my radar. I’m here to be the best and not just part of the organisation. I want to be the champ.”

A win over Bader will see Anderson qualify for the final of the light heavyweight tournament. Reigning champion Vadim Nemkov, from Russia, defends his title against American Julius Anglickas in the other semi-final, at the top of the Bellator 268 card.

Should he win the grand prix, Anderson thinks he could move up to the heavyweight division, where Bader reigns as champion.

“Hell yeah, I’ll go up to heavyweight. If I beat Ryan, then why not? Even if he didn’t have the belt, I’d still go up there. I started my career at heavyweight and I know I can hang with them guys.”

Banner Image Reading Around the BBC - BlueFooter - Blue