Bellator books Fedor Emelianenko – Tim Johnson

Fedor Emelianenko

Bellator has been planning the return of one of the greatest fighters in MMA history. Fedor Emelianenko (39-6, 1 NC) has been gearing up for his return to the cage for the last year. The promotion announced that Fedor would be returning in October and he’d be headlining a card in his homeland of Russia.

Today, we learned who Fedor would be facing when he returns to the cage. Bellator announced that their second ranked heavyweight, Tim Jonson (15-7), would be the one facing off against Fedor in October. In all honesty, I’m a little surprised by the booking decision.

Johnson is one of the best heavyweights that Bellator has to offer. He just fought for the interim heavyweight title back at Bellator 261 at the end of June. Johnson fell short in his attempt to become the interim champion by losing a decision to Valentin Moldavsky.

That loss snapped a three-fight win streak for Johnson. During his previous winning streak, Johnson had finishes over Matt Mitrione and top Bellator prospect Tyrell Fortune. He also defeated Cheick Kongo in the promotion’s first trip to France last year.

Fedor’s Bellator Return

While it’s not been stated directly, this could be the final stand for Fedor in Bellator. The legendary heavyweight will be making the walk for the sixth time under the Bellator banner. So far in his career with the promotion, Fedor has gone 3-2.

The last time we saw Fedor was back in 2019 when he knocked out Rampage Jackson. Fedor will be 45 years old when he makes the walk in October. Given his age and the fact that Bellator booked this event to be in Russia, many are drawing the conclusion that he will be retiring after this one.

That said, if he defeats Johnson, he will likely be ranked near the top of Bellator’s heavyweight division. Regardless, I think this is the final fight for Fedor, but with The Last Emperor, you never really know.

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.

Results and Takeaways from Bellator’s first event in France

Yesterday, Bellator became the first major MMA promotion to host an event in France. MMA was just legalized in France early in 2020, but the pandemic through a wrench in the plans of all promotions who wanted to host events there.

After resuming action a couple of months ago, Bellator made it a priority to host an event in Paris. They were able to work out the logistics and put on some pretty good fights yesterday. The Bellator action came in waves.

The first wave of action came in the form of Bellator 248. That event was headlined by the catchweight matchup between Michael “Venom” Page (18-1) and Ross Houston (8-1, 1 NC). Page was looking to make a statement to try to get a rematch with Bellator champion, Douglas Lima.

The second wave of action featured the homecoming for French heavyweight, Cheick Kongo (30-11-2, 1 NC). Kongo fought in a rematch against Tim Johnson (15-6) who was looking to avenge his knockout loss to Kongo which happened back in 2018.

Bellator 248 Results & Takeaways

The first headliner featured a rather lackluster main event for Bellator. While there seemed to be so much promise in the MVP fight against Ross Houston, there was a lack of action. The first round started out really well for Houston.

Houston came right out and was able to land an early takedown. He was able to control Page for the majority of the first. The second round saw Page land a takedown of his own. He rode out the round landing a few shots from the top, but seemed content with just holding control.

In the final round, both men threw strikes from the outside. Neither fighter landed anything significant, but Page landed the majority of the shots. In the end, the first Bellator main event was given to Page. Following the win, I wouldn’t be shocked if Page got a rematch with Douglas Lima after winning his fourth in a row.

The second Bellator main event featured the heavyweight clash between Kongo and Johnson. Johnson was going to need to use his grappling to win the fight, and that is exactly what he did. In the first, he caught a Kongo kick and took the Frenchman down and controlled him.

The second round was much better for Kongo. He was able to use the clinch to land some good shots, but nothing serious landed. The final round saw a ton of clinch work, but Johnson held control for most of the round. Two of the judges gave the fight to Johnson earning him the split decision.

It was an exciting day for Bellator, but unfortunately the action failed to live up to the hype. Johnson won his third fight in a row this year and might be close to getting a Bellator heavyweight title match. Page is likely going to get a welterweight title fight after winning his fourth in a row.

Cheick Kongo looking to come up big in home debut at Bellator 248

Today, Bellator will make history. They will be the first major MMA promotion to host an event in France. Arguably the biggest name on the card is one of the most famous MMA fighters to ever come from France in Cheick Kongo (30-10-2, 1 NC).

Kongo will be taking on Tim Johnson (14-6) at Bellator 248 in Paris. The two men fought about two years ago at Bellator 208. That night, Kongo knocked out Johnson in the first round of their heavyweight contest.

Kongo is looking to get back on track in this fight. Prior to his title fight against Ryan Bader at Bellator 226, Kongo had won eight consecutive fights inside the Bellator cage. That warranted him a title shot, but the shot was cut short after an accidental eye poked stopped the action in the first round.

Kongo believed that he deserved an immediate rematch with Ryan Bader given the way the first fight ended. However, Bellator had other plans and booked Kongo against Johnson. Tim Johnson has had a fantastic year in 2020.

After suffering back to back knockout losses, Johnson has won two consecutive fights by knockout. He’s knocked out Matt Mitrione and top Bellator prospect, Tyrell Fortune. This is a big fight if he has championship aspirations.

Bellator 248 Prediction

For Johnson to be successful in the rematch, he’s going to have to grapple with Kongo. He doesn’t want to stand at range and trade with the French striker. That will be a ticket to a quick exit for Johnson. I expect Johnson to come out aggressive looking to tire Kongo.

When it comes to these two, I just believe that they are on different levels. Despite being 44, Kongo looked sensational leading up to that title match against Ryan Bader. I’m expecting Kongo to come out looking very good in Bellator‘s Paris debut.

Expect some early grappling, but I think eventually Kongo is going to be able to catch Johnson with something big. I think it’ll actually come relatively early with Kongo getting the finish in the first. Expect him to call out Ryan Bader once the fight is over.

Prediction: Cheick Kongo by KO – Round 1

Bellator to host first major MMA event in France

Over the past few years, it’s been a battle for all MMA promotions to get the sport legalized in France. Bellator currently has one of the most popular fighters in the history of French MMA, Cheick Kongo. Kongo was one of the first really popular fighters from France.

Earlier this year, France finally pulled the trigger on legalizing MMA. All of the major promotions were trying to build up a big card for debuts in France before COVID shut things down. The UFC wanted to have a card headlined by superstar Francis Ngannou.

However, yesterday, ESPN’s Ariel Helwani was reporting that Bellator would become the first promotion to host a major event in France. They were targeting October, and this morning, Bellator confirmed the news announcing two fights for October 10th.

Bellator’s Card

Bellator Paris will in fact be headlined by heavyweight Cheick Kongo (30-10-2, 1 NC). He will be taking on Timothy Johnson (14-6) in a rematch from Bellator 208. Nobody should be surprised by the fact that Kongo is headlining this historic card in Paris.

Kongo has been a face for French MMA for years. I’m happy that he’s getting this spot. The 45 year old Kongo is a veteran of the game who is coming off of a NC with heavyweight champion Ryan Bader. If Kongo is able to knockout Johnson again, he’s likely going to get a rematch.

Johnson has put together back-to-back first round finishes since his two fight losing streak to start his Bellator career. Johnson knocked out heavyweight prospect Tyrell Fortune, then he became fortunate when an accidental headbutt lead to a TKO over Matt Mitrione. This should be a solid main event.

If you haven’t seen Michael Venom Page (17-1) fight before, you could be in for a treat. MVP is extremely creative inside the cage and he’s a ton of fun to watch. He welcomes undefeated Scottish prospect Ross Houston (8-0, 1 NC) to Bellator in Paris.

MVP has won three straight fights by knockout after his loss to Douglas Lima. That is a fight I want to see ran back in the future. If MVP is able to defeat Houston, you might see that fight setup. Houston is a top prospect, but this is a lot to ask for in his Bellator debut

Bellator 243 Recap: Michael Chandler KO’s Benson Henderson in the first

Bellator returned this evening for their second event since opening back up after the pandemic shut things down earlier this year. In the main event of the evening, Benson Henderson (28-8) took on Michael Chandler (20-5). A very solid night of fights from Bellator.

Michael Chandler KO’s Henderson in the First

The main event of the evening was a rematch a few years in the making as the two former lightweight world champions squared off. Chandler entered this fight in the last fight of his current deal with Bellator.

As the main event kicked off, Chandler immediately charged over to Henderson. Henderson started with a big body kick. Chandler countered with a big body kick of his own.

Henderson continued his steady onslaught of body work early on. Big body kicks and solid hooks. Chandler kept pushing forward, but Henderson looked very crisp early on.

Out of no where, Chandler landed a massive left hook which floored Henderson. Chandler followed up with some massive shots and the fight was over. Massive win for Michael Chandler as he heads into free agency.

Accidental headbutt leads to TKO for Tim Johnson

The co-main event of the evening featured Bellator heavyweights Matt Mitrione (13-7, 1 NC) and Tim Johnson (13-6) going head-to-head.

As the fight started, Mitrione refused to touch gloves as he circled around the outside of the cage. A brief exchange led to an accidental headbutt which dropped Mitrione and gave Johnson top position.

Johnson was able to work his way to side control a couple of minutes into the round. Mitrione tried to scramble, but Johnson was doing a good job of holding top position. Mitrione tried another scramble, but took a couple of big shots from Johnson.

Johnson started pouring on big shots and Mitrione looked really hurt. After Mitrione showed nothing in terms of defense, the referee called a stop to the action. A big TKO win for Johnson, but it won’t come without an asterisk due to that headbutt.

Myles Jury edges Georgi Karakhanyan

The second fight on the main card featured a lightweight contest between Myles Jury (18-5) and Georgi Karakhanyan (29-10-1). Both of these guys were looking to make it two in a row inside the Bellator cage after coming off multiple fight losing streaks.

As the first round started, Karakhanyan threw a big looping right hand that clipped Jury. Didn’t land flush, but it got Jury’s attention. Jury landed a couple of good shots before getting turned around by a powerful leg kick.

Karakhanyan was looking very powerful early on. Halfway through the round, Karakhanyan drove Jury to the cage and started delivering knees the thighs. Jury was able to separate with about two minutes left.

Jury landed a couple of good shots before Karakhanyan drove him right back to the cage. He was able to cut Karakhanyan late in the round.

Upon another separation, Jury landed a couple of good shots, but Karakhanyan countered with a power shot. Close round, but I lean Karakhanyan.

Jury immediately started the third with more power shots, but couldn’t land much. The pace was really being picked up by Jury to start the second. Karakhanyan seemed a lot slower to start.

After taking the first minute off, Karakhanyan did throw a couple of looping shots that didn’t land. Jury was doing a much better job in the second at working his strikes from distance.

Myles Jury was starting to really touch Karakhanyan constantly halfway through the round. Good jabs, solid combinations and a steady diet of kicks to the body. Karakhanyan tried for a desperate takedown but couldn’t get Jury down.

Karakhanyan landed a massive right hand as Jury tried to get away. He used the right to transition to another takedown. After being down for a second, Jury worked his way up and pushed Karakhanyan against the cage.

Karakhanyan was able to reverse and get another brief takedown late in the round. Very close second round, but due to the clean shots, I would give it to Jury.

Jury started the third round trying to work his jab again. A weird moment occured about thirty seconds in. Jury was poked in the eye, but the action didn’t stop. After the action didn’t stop Karakhanyan stopped then Jury pushed forward.

Fortunately nothing significant landed. Jury landed a solid elbow before looking for a takedown. Karakhanyan reversed the position and was able to secure a brief takedown. Jury immediately got up and separated.

Jury was able to land a couple of solid shots pushing forward. Karakhanyan pulled Jury into a guillotine, but couldn’t lock it in. Jury secured top position after the failed submission.

Karakhanyan tried to work his way up, but Jury did a good job of holding the top. Jury briefly took Karakhanyan’s back before a scramble found him back in guard. Jury landed a couple of really nice elbows late.

Karakhanyan did get back up, but it was a little too late. Close fight overall, but I give the third round to Jury which gives him the fight on my scorecard 29-28.

The judges were split on this one scoring the fight (30-27, 27-30, 29-28). Odd scores, but Jury wins his second Bellator fight.

Homasi survives Millender’s late rally

Opening up Bellator 243 was a catchweight contest between Curtis Millender (18-5) and Sabah Homasi (13-8). Both of these men were coming off of wins in their return to Bellator.

When the first round started both men exchanged leg kicks before throwing haymakers at each other. Homasi continued to look for a giant overhand right early on.

Millender appeared to be stalking Homasi just looking for his shots. A couple of stiff jabs were landing from Millender while Homasi continued to look to land a bomb. With two minutes left in the round, Homasi was able to shoot in and land a takedown.

Once he had top position, Homasi was able to land some solid elbows. Close round early on, but the takedown seals the first for Homasi.

Millender opened the second round landing a massive jab that backed up Homasi. Homasi was getting backed up by Millender, but he threw a few body kicks to keep the distance. Homasi tried for a takedown about a minute into the round.

Millender was able to defend for a bit, but eventually Homasi was able to get Millender to the ground. Homasi was able to hold solid top position for the majority of the round.

With about a minute left in the round, Homasi was able to take Millender’s back. However, he got a little high in the position and Millender was able to secure top position. Millender tried for a d’arce choke but he ended up back on his back. Another clear round for Homasi.

Millender pressed forward to start round three, but he pressured Homasi right into a clinch. The two men broke from the clinch, and Millender continued to press forward. Homasi seemed fatigued to start the final round.

As soon as Millender started to gain some momentum on the feet, he tried again for a d’arce choke. He couldn’t lock it up and ended up on his back again. Millender worked his way back up to his feet halfway through the round.

After landing a couple of solid shots, Millender just laid against Homasi against the cage. Millender was clearly gassed himself. Homasi landed another easy takedown. Millender did reverse position to gain top position before the end of the round.

I would give the last round to Millender, but the fight to Homasi 29-28. The judges ended up scoring the fight unanimously for Homasi (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).

Final Takeaways from Bellator 243

Bellator successfully hosted it’s second event tonight and there were some solid fights up and down the card. The promotion will be back in a couple of weeks when light heavyweight champion, Ryan Bader defends his title.

Michael Chandler could not have asked for a better performance heading into free agency. A dominant knockout of a former UFC champion. It’ll be interesting to see if he remains with Bellator or moves on to another promotion.