Lithuania native Julius Anglickas arrived in New York when he was 14 years old – five years after his parents left home for a better life in the States. His native country did not have the same type of youth sports programs as were in his new home, so he did what he was used to and played a little basketball. However, when he tried wrestling his freshman year of high school, he found a new love and went all-in.
Anglickas ended his college wrestling career in Missouri, and it was there, after going to college for exercise science and physical education, that he found St. Charles MMA. From mid-2014 to Feb. 2019, he steamrolled most of his competition, compiling a 5-0 amateur MMA record, followed by a 7-1 pro record. At that time, he was sitting as the Legacy Fighting Alliance light heavyweight champ. He had never seen the judges’ scorecards with all of his previous fights ending in a finish.
After a win in Dana White’s Contender Series – which oddly enough did not earn him a UFC contract – Anglickas was promptly picked up by Bellator in late 2019. He walked right down the line, taking out three opponents in a row, including the likes of then-undefeated Jordan Young and Alex Polizzi. His last fight was against Gregory Milliard at Bellator 257 last April. While he picked up the win, it was his third decision in a row, and not something he was thrilled about.
“My last fight, I wasn’t too, too happy,” Anglickas told Combat Press. “I don’t know. My first two Bellator fights were good. I was able to go out there and get it. The last one, I think something just felt off a little bit. I tried to grapple him more, and I feel like I should have tried to do a little bit more damage. For some reason, I didn’t do that, so I’m not the happiest that I performed that way. I can’t change anything, so now I’ve got to look forward and do better next time.”
Anglickas is a very focused fighter. He doesn’t go out and party. He doesn’t drink and act a fool. All the 205-pound fighter, who’s sitting near the top of the Bellator heap, does is train, cook, eat, sleep, and repeat.
“I might go out a little bit here and there,” Anglickas said. “I’m not big on going out too much, because I’m training all the time. Like, I know I’m training tomorrow and I have to help my teammates. I don’t like taking too much time off. I will go home and visit my family after a fight – maybe take two weeks off – but, I get right back in there and help my teammates.”
The man from a former Soviet republic practically lives like a monk, and he’s only focused on one thing – fighting. So, one can only imagine what he was thinking when he was sitting around on the couch one day, when he found out light heavyweight title contender Anthony “Rumble” Johnson was out of his Bellator light heavyweight grand prix tournament semifinal fight with champion Vadim Nemkov, and the promotion needed an alternate.
“I was home, and they called me to say ‘Rumble’ was out, and I was most likely fighting the champion,” Anglickas said. “It wasn’t definite, but it was a ninety-something-percent chance. When they officially called me, it was morning practice. They called and said it was official. A contract was signed, and I was fighting for the belt. It was super, super cool. When it wasn’t definite, it was hard to lock in. I was getting ready, but it’s only real when you sign the contract.
“It was like ‘wow.’ We knew we might have a title shot within the next year or so. We definitely did not expect it to be this soon. But at the same time, with the tournament, we knew anything could happen – anybody could fall out. Somebody could get hurt or sick or something. It definitely was in the back of mind that I could be in there, but definitely not against the champion. That was one of the last things I thought of, so it was definitely a big surprise. I’m happy to take the opportunity. Stuff like this does not happen often.”
The bout with Nemkov is scheduled as the co-main event tomorrow night at Bellator 268, live from the Footprint Center in Phoenix, and airing on Showtime. The co-main event features the other tournament semifinal as Ryan Bader will lock horns with Corey Anderson. Anglickas is very excited for the opportunity, and knows exactly what Nemkov brings to the table.
“He’s a super tough opponent,” explained Anglickas. “I’m bigger than him, but he’s definitely consistent and quick. He moves a lot. He uses a lot of twitchy motions, and then he kicks your leg. Throughout, the fight, he slows people down with it. I think that’s going to be his main weapon – his motions and moving a lot. He keeps it simple – simple basic kickboxing. But, of course, basics win fights. He just tries to keep the basics very, very good.”
The 29-year-old Nemkov first won the belt from Bader in Aug. 2020. After that, he successfully defended his title against Phil Davis last April at Bellator 257. Both of those opponents had a two-inch height advantage over the Russian, but Anglickas is coming in one-inch taller than both of them, and he will be sporting a slight reach advantage over the champ. He plans to stick to what he knows best.
“My biggest thing is going to be to try and check the kicks,” Anglickas said. “I need to make him pay for the kicks. I’m just going to try to keep it basic. It’s going to be a battle of who makes less mistakes with their striking. I do feel my size will be an advantage over him. At the same time, when you’re smaller, you have better cardio. He’s been fighting top guys, so I’m sure his cardio is going to be on-point. But, size plays a big factor as well. I think that will help me, and I think he’ll be surprised with my striking as well.”
Anglickas enters the cage tomorrow night against a very tough opponent, who is the titleholder for a reason. The champ is sitting at 14-2 as a pro, and the Lithuanian will be coming in with a 10-1 record. While many people would have loved to have seen the hard-hitting Johnson – who appeared to be back to form in his last fight – nobody can discount what Anglickas brings to the table. His dream has been fast-forwarded, and tomorrow night, he will take a shot at Bellator glory.
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