Corey Anderson doesn't miss UFC's 'politics,' says Bellator treats him better
Corey Anderson doesn't miss the UFC.
The light heavyweight contender, who was granted his UFC release and signed with Bellator in late 2020, told theScore he's had a much better experience in his new home.
Anderson's frustration with the UFC stemmed from the fact he was unable to secure a title shot due to his lack of recognition. In a broader sense, he believes the UFC treats its fighters differently based on their individual value to the promotion.
"I had beaten everybody up to (Alexander) Gustafsson and (Jon) Jones - No. 1 and the champ," Anderson told theScore on Tuesday. "I beat them all, but they called me into the office and I demanded a title shot, and they literally said, 'Well, we can't give you a title shot, because you don't have a following. The needle doesn't move when we say your name. Granted, we can't say you don't deserve it. But we're in this business to make money, and there's no way we can promote or sell that.' And that right there, that's politics."
Nearly a year into his Bellator tenure, Anderson is 2-0 and is scheduled to face off with fellow UFC veteran Ryan Bader in the semifinals of the Bellator light heavyweight grand prix on Saturday. The winner will then face either current champion Vadim Nemkov or Julius Anglickas - who headline Bellator 268 in Phoenix - for the title and $1-million grand prix.
Anderson likes the grand prix format because he always knows who he's fighting next, and each winner moves closer to a title shot - nothing else matters but a victory.
Regardless of the tournament format, the 32-year-old thinks Bellator does a better job of treating its fighters evenly and ensuring that title shots go to those who deserve them.
"I see how they treat other fighters," Anderson said of Bellator. "Other fighters that go out there and win, whether it's an exciting win or whatever, they win, they move forward. And that's just the way it's supposed to be."
Not only does Anderson think a UFC fighter's popularity dictates how quickly they move up the ladder, he also believes it has an impact on whether a fighter gets punished for their actions.
"You got Conor McGregor, Jon Jones, you got these guys who can do wrong daily, and they just get slapped on the wrist," Anderson said. "It's because they're a star, they sell tickets."
Anderson departed the UFC as the No. 4-ranked light heavyweight. He won "The Ultimate Fighter 19" in 2014 and went 10-5 in the promotion overall. While he's grateful for the time he spent as a UFC fighter, he's happier in Bellator.
"If it wasn't for my time in the UFC, 'Overtime' wouldn't be 'Overtime.' I wouldn't have what I have. UFC gave me that," Anderson said. "But because of that, it opened up doors for me to find places like Bellator. And I came to find that I get treated better here, I make more money here, and there's no politics. I can go back to just being me."
He added: "I'm here to move forward. I don't want to stand still, I don't want to be held back. I don't need no anchors on my legs. I want to be free. If I win, I want to move forward. And here, I can do exactly that."