Vadim Nemkov vs. Bruno Cappelozza prediction | Bellator vs. PFL 1

The Professional Fighters League has made leaps and bounds in the world of MMA in the last few years, but nothing they have done has been bigger than acquiring Bellator MMA in 2023. This weekend, they have decided to pit the best of both organizations against one another in a Bellator vs. PFL showcase.

While the final fights of the night will consist of the current champions facing off, arguably the best matchup on the card will be between Bellator’s former Light Heavyweight champion, Vadim Nemkov who never lost his title and the 2021 PFL Heavyweight champion Bruno Cappelozza.

Nemkov, a student of the legend Fedor Emiliananko, set a record, defending the Bellator Light Heavyweight strap five times by June 2023. However after defeating Yoel Romero to do so, the Russian standout vacated the title citing his desire to move up a weightless and dominate the Heavyweight division as well.

Cappelozza last fought in April of 2023, defeating Matheus Scheffel by TKO, however the win was overturned to a no-contest following a failed drug test. Cappelozza will not only be returning to competition after almost a year away but will be looking to redeem himself by inviting Nemkov into Heavyweight territory for the first time in almost a decade.

Betting Odds

Vadim Nemkov enters the bout as a heavy favourite over the Brazilian.

  • Vadim Nemkov: -500 (BetUS)
  • Bruno Cappelozza: +350 (BetUS)

Fight Breakdown

Vadim Nemkov stands in a conventional stance and stands 6 feet tall with 76 inches of reach. He is exceptionally well-rounded, utilizing both sharp boxing and some of the best kicks in Bellator, especially in the heavier divisions. Normally we see two looks from Nemkov, the aggressive fighter moving forward often uses his head and body kicks to force his opponents backwards towards the fence. He does a very good job of kicking his way into boxing range, which forces his opponents to shell high and to the sides opening his straight punches up down the pipe.

When Nemkov is not the one pushing forward he uses very subtle pendulum footwork, shifting bak enough to allow his opponents to walk into his counters, and he mixes up his in pocket combinations well. Almost all strikes from Nemkov are concise other than some of his blast headlocks, he typically likes to keep things short and quick and is defensively responsible. Watch for him to start opening up with more pro-active boxing after he finds his opponents tiring, where he will double and triple up on his jab to open the right hook or cross to the body.

Cappelozza is a dangerous striker in his own right. He may not have the diversity of striking that Nemkov has but he has particularly special hand speed, sharp offensive boxing and KO power to boot. Cappelozza does a good job of tagging his opponents with his jab and hooks, but then sitting down on sniper-like straights, watch for his right cross to the head, reset and then the same punch to come down to the body under the guard.

One issue we have seen from Cappeloza is because he wants to land in flurries he will leave his head dead centre in boxing range which could spell trouble. However he should be confident knowing that if they exchange punches he does typically carry more power in his hands than Nemkov, who tends to find his KO’s often off his kicks.

This should probably end up being a striking battle from both parties, it would be smart for Nemkov to utilize his kicks as much as possible and Cappelozza to pressure box. One of the things that sets them apart is that when Cappelozza does kick, he winds up and throws big power kicks to the body and legs one at a time or behind a couple punches.

Nemkov kicks in combinations of their own, especially his low kick to headlock and body kick to headkick, This allows him to start striking from a further distance and keep Cappelozza on that outside plane. Beating up the lead leg of Cappelozza will also take some of the sting off of his jab and Cappelozza never really switches stance at all.

For Cappelozza knowing he has the power advantage and quick hands inside should give him confidence. Other opponents have had some of their most success blitzing Nemkov, maybe having to take a shot in the process but rushing him down the line. Nemkov has attendance to turn away and throw a spinning backlist as he tries to create distance, but it’s at this point that he has been vulnerable to getting put on the fence or at least to be less composed.

I don’t see either man looking for a grappling heavy gameplan, but both have much better top games than guard work. Nemkov has very good reactive level changes out in the open and clinch takedowns from the fence. Cappelozza also has very good clinch wrestling. A major difference once it hits the mat however, is Nemkov is much more satisfied sitting in the guard and landing ground and pound, and the only times he really looks to pass is from standing where he can throw his opponents hips to the side and come crashing back down.

Cappelozza has a much more traditional and educated jiu jitsu style passing game, where he will move to half guard before mounting and then releasing his strikes from a more dominant position. That being said, both are very experienced and I don’t see either holding the other down for the duration of the fight, it would air Nemkov more to control Cappelozza early to take away some of that fresh hand speed and make him work in the first round but ultimately I think both men will look to test each other standing.


Bruno Cappelozza has not been an underdog in 7 matchups and in the last three, he has been between -300 and -400. That speaks to the level of talent Nemkov is bringing to the PFL that he is a -500 favorite over the former champion.

Although Cappelozza is dangerous everywhere and at all times, Nemkov just has more tools and I think his ability to control rather than react to the range and distance of the fight is what will really allow him to fight his fight against Cappelozza.

Not to mention, this is a Cappalozza coming off of almost a year away as well as potentially off of a substance that he may have been competing with before. -500 is not anything to get excited about, but for those taking the opportunity to set up a team parlay Nemkov is a useful booster.

Pick: Vadim Nemkov to boost your parlay

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