Stripped of the pressure to be the fighter he isn’t after leaving UFC, light heavyweight contender Corey Anderson went back to his wrestling roots to make Thursday night’s Bellator MMA debut a successful one.
Anderson (14-5) made easy work of hard-hitting combat legend Melvin Manhoef in the main event of Bellator 251 with clean takedowns and some dominant ground-and-pound en route to a second-round TKO inside the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Not only was this the 31-year-old Anderson’s first appearance since snapping a four-fight win streak in February when he was knocked out by current UFC champion Jan Blachowicz, the victory marked a successful return from a subsequent health scare in the aftermath, which included a concussion caused by a fall and a heart condition that put the future of his career in question.
Anderson looked like nothing but a bonafide title contender in his debut appearance under the Bellator MMA banner. More importantly for Anderson, he was happy to eschew both the uncharacteristic trash talking and reliance upon his standup game that helped make the end of his UFC run make him feel like anything but himself.
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