One of the Bellator light heavyweight grand prix alternates, Anglickas (10-1 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) enters the tournament in place of the ill Anthony “Rumble” Johnson and challenges champion Vadim Nemkov for the title in a semifinal bout. Despite the big stage, bright lights, and sudden attention, Anglickas isn’t rattled. In fact, he’s quite the opposite.
“I feel a little bit more calm than usual,” Anglickas told MMA Junkie on Thursday. “The media and all the little extra things I need to do just keep me distracted from just sitting in my room and getting nervous over stuff. Just interaction with people and media and just talking about it. It definitely helps to cope with things. At the same time, I think the pressure is off since all the pressure is on him. He’s the champion. He needs to defend it. I was an alternate and now I just need to go in and fight my best.
“Like, people already assume that he’s going to win just because he’s the champion and he’s fighting the alternate. I feel it takes a lot of pressure off me. I do feel more pressure when I know that I’m stepping into a fight that everybody knows I’m going to win. It’s like, ‘Oh my god. Now I really need to win.’ Yeah, it might throw me off my game. Now, nothing is off there that could throw me off. We’re just going to go in there, feel good, and perform good and just do the best I can. Well, that’s how I feel right now. Hopefully, that’s exactly how it is. That’s exactly how I feel it will be.”
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While he might not be a name now, Anglickas has the opportunity of a lifetime to instill himself into MMA folklore should he enter the grand prix in a win. In 2011, a largely-unknown wrestler-turned-fighter named Daniel Cormier entered the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix, upset Antonio Silva, and went on to beat Josh Barnett.
While Anglickas recognizes he could do something similar, he’s not thinking about that. His main motivation lies in representing his home country, his team, and his family.
“It would mean a lot (to become champion),” Anglickas said. “It’s like, ‘Wow.’ I would probably be speechless, just like right now. Like, what direction do I want to take? It’s a lot to take in. You’ve got to think you’re representing Lithuania, so you’ve got to think about that. You’re representing a gym. You’ve got to think about that. Your parents are excited. You’ve got to think about them. I’ll be going to see them after this fight back on Long Island.
“I would have a hard time knowing where to put my mind first or where to put my attention because you’re representing a lot. You’re representing Long Island. That’s where I grew up. I went to high school there. So I have a lot of friends and family. I also represent St-Louis because I’ve been here for so long. I’m representing Lithuania. I feel I’ll be representing a lot. A lot of people would be proud of it. It would be a big thing for me to win. The attention would come from all directions – and the love and support. I’m sure I’ll be overwhelmed with it.”
Bellator 268 takes place Saturday at Footprint Center. The main card airs on Showtime after prelims on MMA Junkie.
Bellator light heavyweight grand prix: Best photos
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