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Bellator 261: First Interim Title In Company History

Top-ranked Tim Johnson squares up against number three ranked Valentin Moldavsky in the Heavyweight Interim title tilt to headline Bellator 261

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.

On Saturday, June 26, No. 1 ranked heavyweight Tim Johnson (15-6) and No. 3 ranked heavyweight Valentin Moldavsky (10-1) will vie for the interim title in the main event of Bellator MMA 261. The event will be available live on 10 play, with the main card set to kickoff at 11 a.m. AEST, 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 26. The preliminary card of Bellator MMA 261: Johnson vs. Moldavsky streams live on the Bellator MMA YouTube channel. Additional bouts will be announced at a later date.

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.

Bellator MMA 261: Johnson vs. Moldavsky Main Card:

  • Interim Heavyweight Title Main Event: #1-Tim Johnson (15-6) vs. #3-Valentin Moldavsky (10-1)

For all upcoming events, check the schedule here

To watch past events on-demand check the Past Events Library