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Timothy Johnson faces Valentin Moldavsky for interim heavyweight title at Bellator 261

Johnson vs Moldavsky for interim heavyweight title

As current Bellator MMA heavyweight champion Ryan Bader continues his pursuit of re-claiming his light heavyweight championship in the ongoing Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix, Bellator MMA has officially introduced an interim title for the heavyweight division.

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On Friday, June 25, No. 1 ranked heavyweight Timothy Johnson (15-6) and No. 3 ranked heavyweight Valentin Moldavsky (10-1) will vie for the interim title in the main event of Bellator 261. The event will be available live on Showtime, with the main card set to kickoff at 9 pm ET / 6 pm PT, emanating from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.

The winner of the interim title will become Bader’s mandatory challenger when he returns to the heavyweight division or will be elevated to full champion in the event that Bader chooses to stay at light heavyweight following the culmination of the current Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix.

In addition to the main event, three additional preliminary bouts have been confirmed. Two lightweight bouts, No. 5 ranked Myles Jury (19-5) versus No. 6 ranked Sidney Outlaw (15-4) and Isaiah Hokit (pro debut) against Aaron Hughes (1-1) have been confirmed. Also, a women’s strawweight tilt pitting Lena Ovchynnikova (12-6, 1 NC) against Kyra Batara (8-4) will also take place on June 25.

The preliminary card of Bellator 261: Johnson vs. Moldavsky streams live on the Bellator MMA YouTube channel, Showtime Sports YouTube channel and Pluto TV at 6 pm ET / 3 pm PT.

Riding a three-fight win streak, UFC veteran Timothy Johnson firmly entrenched himself as the clear-cut number one contender in the Bellator heavyweight division with impressive first-round finishes over Matt Mitrione and Tyrell Fortune. His October 2020 victory over Cheick Kongo during the first-ever major MMA event in France catapulted him to the top of the division. Proudly hailing from North Dakota, but fighting out of Las Vegas, the Xtreme Couture-product is also won two national championships while wrestling at Minnesota State University and a heavyweight championship on the regional MMA circuit.

Training under the tutelage of heavyweight legend Fedor Emelianenko, Valentin Moldavsky has begun carving out his own legacy, becoming the No. 3 ranked Bellator heavyweight and securing himself an interim title shot with a perfect 5-0 record within the confines of the Bellator cage. A multi-time European Sambo champion, Moldavsky has defeated top heavyweight contenders such as Javy Ayala, Linton Vassell, and Roy Nelson on his climb to the top. Born in Ukraine, the 29-year-old looks to join teammate Vadim Nemkov and bring more gold to Team Fedor’s trophy case on June 25.

The current list of matchups featured on the Bellator 261: Johnson vs Moldavsky fight card can be found below. Other bouts are expected to be announced shortly.

Bellator 261 fight card

Main Card

Timothy Johnson vs. Valentin Moldavsky – for interim heavyweight title

Preliminary Card

Lena Ovchynnikova vs. Kyra Batara

Isaiah Hokit vs. Aaron Hughes

Myles Jury vs. Sidney Outlaw

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