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Corey Anderson eyes dominant Bellator debut against Melvin Manhoef to secure title shot

UNCASVILLE, Conn. – So far, Corey Anderson is happy with his departure from the UFC.

The light heavyweight fighter makes his Bellator debut Thursday night in the main event of Bellator 251 against veteran striker Melvin Manhoef. This is the first time Anderson steps in a different cage other than the UFC octagon in over six years.

(32-14-1 MMA, 4-3 BMMA)

And being a few days away from his debut, Anderson (13-4 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) is digging the change.

“It actually feels kind of relieving for me,” Anderson told MMA Junkie on Tuersday. “There’s no extra pressure with you having to sell tickets, you having to get the fans on your side, all that stuff. There’s no fans here. I go out there, I win, and I move forward. There’s no extra baggage you carry into the cage.”

Anderson, 31, switched promotions in August. It was a rare move as Anderson still had fights left on his UFC contract. The promotion granted Anderson’s release, thus allowing him to sign with Bellator.

Anderson is coming off a knockout loss to now champion Jan Blachowicz in February. “Overtime” admits the defeat still stings but finds some validation despite the negative result.

“A loss is a loss. It’s going to sting regardless,” Anderson explained. “But you know, you’re still one of the best in the world. I’m 1-1 with the champ, and he’s the best in the world. So how can you really feel bad about that?”

Despite not having logged in a fight under Bellator, Anderson believes he’s one of the top guys in the division and expects to be fighting for gold soon.

“I already know I fit in with the top of the division, but they had to give me a fight first because Nemkov (Bellator light heavyweight champion) didn’t think it was fair for me to come in and get a title fight in my first fight,” Anderson said.

“I can respect that, so it is what it is. I have to come in here and put on a dominant performance or beat him in a great fashion so he can be, ‘Wel,  he did this to Manhoef, we can give him another fight or from there he can fight Nemkov and give Nemkov a challenge.’ I’m just going to do my thing and see where the cards fall.”

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