The first interim heavyweight champion in Bellator MMA history is Valentin Moldavsky.
With current champion Ryan Bader in the middle of the light heavyweight grand prix in hopes to once again become a simultaneous two-division champion, the promotion moved forward with the interim title fight between Moldavsky and Timothy Johnson to headline Bellator 261 on Friday night at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.
After a very competitive first eight minutes of the fight, Johnson landed a hard combination in the latter half of the second round and both heavyweights slugged it out in a flurry. Moldavsky scored with a hard right hand before Johnson got after it, even shouting, “Let’s go,” before the bell sounded.
The pace slowed a tad in the third until Johnson landed a hard combination near the fence with around three minutes to go. Moldavsky continued to be the more active striker, landing at a higher clip before taking Johnson’s back with 90 seconds to go in the round — a position he maintained for about 80 of those seconds.
As they entered the championship rounds, the leather began to fly even more. The quickness advantage for the protege of Fedor Emelianenko was becoming more evident as the fight wore on, from the hand speed, to his transitions from standup to grappling. Moldavsky opened up a nasty cut on the right eye of Johnson midway through the round with an accidental headbutt. Much like the second, Johnson’s energy levels ramped up as he tried to lure Moldavsky into a brawl, but to no avail.
Moldavsky, likely needing to avoid being finished to lose the fight, did everything he could to make sure Johnson didn’t land a fight changing shot. The 29-year-old kept Johnson guessing with feints, level changes, tie-ups and quick movements to make sure the victory would be locked up at the final bell. Johnson finished strong by throwing heaters at Moldavsky, but it wasn’t enough.
In the end, one judge scored it 50-45, while the other two scored it 49-46 for Moldavsky, who will now meet Bader down the line in a heavyweight title unification bout.
Liz Carmouche knew she needed to make a statement — and she did exactly that in the evening’s flyweight co-main event.
Seconds after her matchup with previously unbeaten Kana Watanabe began, Carmouche landed a big shot that stunned her opponent. Once she had Watanabe hurt, Carmouche didn’t let up, landing a flurry of shots before the referee called a stop to the fight just 35 seconds into it. Video of the finish can be seen here.
Sidney Outlaw dominates, gets late tap with rear-naked choke
After having his nine-fight winning streak snapped by Michael Chandler in 2019, Sidney Outlaw is back on a winning streak at 155 pounds.
Facing longtime UFC veteran Myles Jury, Outlaw used an impressive wrestling and grappling display, spending nearly the entire fight on the back of his opponent. Outlaw arguably took a pair of 10-8 rounds with his back control, much to the chagrin of the booing crowd. Despite Jury’s attempts to slam his way to a comeback win in the third, Outlaw remained in his dominant position with both hooks in before eventually getting the tap via rear-naked choke with just 16 seconds left in the fight.
Outlaw has now won two straight, while Jury drops to 2-2 since signing with Bellator in 2019.
Get full Bellator 261 results below:
Valentin Moldavsky def. Timothy Johnson via unanimous decision (50-45, 49-46, 49-46)
Liz Carmouche def. Kana Watanabe via KO - Round 1, :35 | (Watch video)