Valentin Moldavsky Crowned Interim Heavyweight Champion at Bellator 261

By: Tyler Treese
Jun 25, 2021

Bellator MMA crowned its interim heavyweight champion at Bellator 261.

The main event saw 36-year-old veteran Timothy Johnson go up against Russian prospect Valentin Moldavsky. Johnson (15-7) looked to brawl with the 29-year-old and found some success on the feet while doing so. However, Moldavsky (11-1) was more technical at a distance and was generally landing the better punches. In Round 3, the Russian started to take Johnson down and found success in the grappling exchanges. As the fight continued, Moldavsky was the fresher fighter despite Johnson always moving forward. After five rounds, the judges awarded Moldavsky the unanimous decision and the interim title with scores of 50-45, 49-46 and 49-46 in his favor.

The co-main event saw Liz Carmouche make a statement against Kana Watanabe and potentially earn a flyweight title shot. Carmouche needed just 35 seconds as she rushed Watanabe and continually rocked her with punches until the referee waved it off. After the bout, Carmouche called for a title fight, which is hard to deny.

Sidney Outlaw's grappling was on display against Myles Jury. Outlaw (16-4) took the back of Jury (19-6) and controlled his opponent over the opening round and did the same for the second and third frames. Late in Round 3, Jury slammed his opponent, which only helped Outlaw sink in a rear-naked choke and get the tap at the 4:44 mark.

In a featherweight bout, Daniel Weichel managed to get back into the win column at the expense of Keoni Diggs. It was a tightly contested bout going the full 15 minutes. Both men had their moments on the feet, but neither was in danger of getting finished at any point. After three rounds of action, the judges preferred the work of Weichel (41-12), rewarding him a split decision with scores of 29-28, 28-29 and 30-27. With the defeat, Diggs' record drops to 9-1.

Christian Edwards was simply the better striker against Simon Biyong, who didn't have anything on the feet for the undefeated 22-year-old prospect. Edwards (5-0) was always one step ahead and the fight eventually felt like a sparring contest with Biyong (7-2) unable to mount any pressure. Edwards took a wide unanimous decision with scores of 30-27, 30-27 and 30-27.

In preliminary action, John de Jesus (14-9) picked up a split decision verdict over John Texieira (23-6-2) with scores of 29-28, 28-29 and 29-28; Taylor Johnson (7-2) tapped Lance Wright (4-2) with a rear-naked choke after just 2:58 of action; Jaylon Bates (3-0) submitted Cody Matthews (1-2) with a slick armbar at 4:04 of Round 2; Corey Samuels (3-2) knocked out Isaiah Hokit (0-1) with punches in just 10 seconds; and Sorek Bak (14-1) picked up a unanimous decision (30-26, 29-27, 29-27) over Bobby Lee (12-6).
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