Bellator 261 Preview: Who will become interim heavyweight champion?

Tonight Bellator is back and the interim heavyweight title is on the line. In the main event, the promotion will hand an interim title to either Tim Johnson (15-6) or Valentin Moldavsky (10-1).

Bellator already has a heavyweight champion in Ryan Bader (28-6, 1 NC). However, Bader hasn’t defended his heavyweight title since Bellator 226 back in 2019. Bader is currently in the light heavyweight Grand Prix with no ETA on his next heavyweight fight.

With that in mind, the promotion has decided to keep things moving in their heavyweight division. Who would have thought back in 2019 that Tim Johnson would be fighting for a Bellator heavyweight title?

Johnson made his Bellator debut back in 2018 and was knocked out in the first round of his first two fights. However, 2020 was a turnaround year for Johnson. Johnson stopped Tyrell Fortune and Matt Mitrione before getting a rematch with Cheick Kongo.

Kongo had knocked him out in their first fight, but the second fight was much different. At Bellator 248, Johnson picked up a split decision win. With three straight wins, Johnson has been put in this headliner, but he’ll have his hands full tonight.

Bellator 261

Standing across from Tim Johnson at Bellator 261 will be Valentin Moldavsky. Moldavsky has been perfect since he joined the promotion. The Russian made his Bellator debut back in 2017. Since then, he’s gone a perfect 5-0.

Moldavsky trains under Fedor Emelianenko and alongside the current Bellator light heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov. Fedor has built himself quite the team and Moldavsky is looking to become the team’s next world champion.

If you were to ask me two years ago who’d win this Bellator 261 main event, I wouldn’t have given it any thought. I would have said Moldavsky without thinking twice. However, Tim Johnson’s 2020 has made me rethink everything.

He’s shown incredible toughness and grit on his way to winning three fights in a row. However, I don’t think he picks up his fourth tonight. I think we see another Russian champion crowned tonight.

Prediction: Valentin Moldavsky by TKO – Round 3

Bellator announces interim heavyweight title fight between Tim Johnson and Valentin Moldavsky

Bellator is going to crown an interim heavyweight champion. With Ryan Bader competing in the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix, the promotion has decided to create an interim title for the heavyweights.

Bellator announced today that next month Tim Johnson (15-6) will take on Valentin Moldavsky (10-1) for the interim heavyweight title. The matchup will take place at Bellator 261 on June 25th.

Tim Johnson has completely turned his career around. Johnson made his Bellator debut back in 2018 after a stint with the UFC and lost two straight fights by knockout. After those two losses, Johnson took off 2019.

He returned in 2020 and looked like a completely different fighter. He knocked out Tyrone Fortune and Matt Mitrione in the first round. After those two wins, he got a rematch with Cheick Kongo.

Kongo was the first man to face and knock out Johnson in Bellator. However, this time Johnson was able to grind out a split decision. On the heels of these three consecutive victories, Johnson is getting a shot at heavyweight gold.

Moldavsky looks to remain unbeaten in Bellator

Standing across from Johnson on June 25th will be the Russian Valentin Moldavsky. Moldavsky is a protégé of the great Fedor Emelianenko and he’s ready to capture his first world championship in Bellator.

Moldavsky made his debut with Bellator back in 2017 after a four-fight stint in Rizin. Since making his debut with the promotion, Moldavsky has been a perfect 5-0 and he got the biggest win of his career in his last fight.

At Bellator 244 in August, Moldavsky took on Roy Nelson. This was also the same night that his teammate Vadim Nemkov dethroned Ryan Bader of his light heavyweight championship.

Moldavsky was able to pickup the unanimous decision victory over the former Ultimate Fighter winner. With that win, Moldavsky has earned him a shot at Bellator 261. With no definitive timeframe on Bader’s heavyweight return, the winner of this matchup could defend the title before unifying down the road with Ryan Bader.