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.
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