Ryan Bader will put his Bellator heavyweight title on the line for the first time in over two years.
Promotional officials revealed on Monday that Bader will face interim champion Valentin Moldavsky in a title unification bout at Bellator 273. The event takes place Jan. 29 at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Ariz. and will air on Showtime.
Bader last defended the title against Cheick Kongo at Bellator 226 in September 2019, where the bout ended in a no contest after an eye poke. Since then, Bader lost his 205-pound title against Vadim Nemkov before entering the promotion’s light heavyweight grand prix where he defeated Lyoto Machida in April before suffering a KO loss to Corey Anderson in October at Bellator 268.
Moldavsky, a protege of Fedor Emelianenko, became Bellator’s first-ever interim heavyweight champion with a unanimous decision win over Timothy Johnson at Bellator 261. The 29-year-old enters the bout with six consecutive victories.
In addition, Darrion Caldwell will welcome Enrique Barzola to the promotion for his first fight following a 10-fight run in the UFC.