During the final stages of his UFC tenure, Corey Anderson would tell you, as would those around him, he wasn't himself. Feeling disrespected by the UFC in the way they treated him and how they overlooked his four-fight winning streak, Anderson wanted out and the promotion obliged, coming to terms with him on a release that would eventually lead to him signing with Bellator MMA.
The difference in treatment was clearly obvious from the moment Bellator made their interest in Anderson known and he felt it right away. After picking up a victory in his promotional debut against Melvin Manhoef by second-round TKO. After the win against Manhoef, Bellator selected Anderson to be part of their Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix, matching him up with newcomer Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov in the first round, which will take place this weekend at Bellator 257, with the winner moving on to face former champion, Ryan Bader.
"Best light heavyweight tournament ever"
During this week's pre-fight media session, Anderson spoke about the differences in his time with the UFC and how significantly different the treatment and respect have been during his time with Bellator, but it's not just his specific dealings with the promotion as Anderson believes he's where the better talent is as well. During fight week, former champion Phil Davis called this Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix the "best light heavyweight tournament ever" and said that between his promotion and the UFC, Bellator has the superior light heavyweight talent. When asked about Davis' comments, Anderson emphatically agreed.
The better talent is signed with Bellator
"100% like he said, I couldn't say it any better. We have all the numbers, we have the skills we have the names. 205 over there all you have is the champ [Jan Blachowicz] and Glover [Teixeira]. People here already beat both of those guys. It shouldn't even be a question, it's just the name of UFC, that's all."
As he prepared to enter the Grand Prix tournament after spending time in quarantine with his family and newborn child, Anderson shifted his focus back to fighting for what matters most, his family. It was also during this time that Anderson was able to recognize the differences between both promotions.
I made a post a couple of days ago, it said I'm in the best place I've been physically and mentally in my whole career. And that's just the fact that I'm not fighting with the organization. I got to a point before the Johnny Walker fight, I didn't fight all that year until the end of the year to fight Johnny in December because we were fighting with the promotion the whole time. Even after the fight, it was still a fight. It got to a point where my manager called me and said 'you're not the Corey we know anymore, you're changing, you're turning into this ugly person. You used to have a beautiful soul that's not, you don't speak like that, you don't act like that.'
But there's a point you get so fed up with arguing with people, I've been here for seven years and done everything you've wanted me to do, it's like you still don't appreciate it. You're fighting two battles, you got to fight the guy in the Octagon but at the same time, you got to fight the people you work for.
Better treatment, better vibes, better performances
Cory Anderson beats Melvin Manhoef
Combining the renewed focus and better treatment from his new promotion, Anderson said he feels very good about where he's at headed into this fight. The relationship with Bellator has made the preparation that much simpler for Corey Anderson and he feels he's getting back his rights as a fighter as well.
"As for here I haven't had any of that, I reach out to Mike Kogan, nothing but respect and every time I have a question, he answers back. Any misunderstandings, we get it worked out, they talk to my manager, my manager talks to me, everything's worked out. It's been smooth between two fights. During camp, there's no headache, I'm not stressing. I'm not like 'If I go out there and say this, are they going to punish me? Is this going to happen if I tweet this? If I post this post are they gonna get mad? If I tag this person are they gonna get upset? It's literally, I can be me. I have the right to be Corey Anderson, use Corey Anderson's platform the way Corey Anderson wants to use it. I can post what I want to do, spend time with my family, say what I want to say, it's giving me my freedom of speech. It's kind of like the First Amendment, Bellator gave me that back as a fighter, as for the UFC it was kind of like 'You better do this, or."
Night and day difference could pave the way for Corey Anderson
Corey Anderson has made it seem as though all things are different from his time with the UFC to how he is treated now with Bellator, and if all the changes are positive, then only time will tell if getting all the outside distractions silenced, could lead to championship gold for him.