CAPE TOWN – Put your hands up for Bellator’s interim Heavyweight king, Valentin Moldavsky (10-1).
The Ukraine-Russian overcame a flurry of adversity in the early rounds of his 5-round bout with Timothy Johnson (15-7) to eventually get his hand raised via a unanimous decision at Bellator 261 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut last night.
The fight which started off slow with both athletes getting a feel of things eventually saw the American put his foot on the gas and launch an attack which forced Valentin to engage, however, the Ukraine (who now calls Russia home) remained composed and turned that energy into his favour with some smart clinchwork.
Both athletes became very comfortable with their range in the second round and didn’t hold back as both men were up in each other’s space and faces.
As in most heavyweight bouts, the pace slowed down a bit in the middle to first championship round, but it was Valentin who gained the ascendancy unleashing his first takedown late in the third round, before taking more advantage of the 191cm tall Timothy’s fatigue by using that elite wrestling and cardio to outwork his American opponent.
Timothy suffered a blow above his right eye that caused a cut - it was soon confirmed a head butt.
The American then - in desperation to earn some points and fight back after being on the back foot in the first four rounds - unleashed another burst of energy throwing shots with bad intentions. But credit must be given to the Ukraine who stayed relaxed and composed, not giving too much away and not taking unnecessary chances staying at range launching attacks with his fists when needed, at the same time avoiding the much taller and bigger Timothy’s drop shots.
There was a moment where Valentin obliged Timothy’s wishes to stand and bang close to the end of the fight, but it was a well-executed risk for Valentin as he most probably knew he had the fight in the bag. The judges score cards read as follows: 50-45, 49-46 and 49-46.
“I’m very tired, I’m very happy I won, I thought it was going to be a little bit of an easier fight, but it is what it is,” said the now-interim champion, Valentin.
Valentin will now face Bellator’s Heavyweight champion, Ryan Bader (28-6 and 1 NC) as soon as the champion is available. Bader is currently competing to return to double-champ status in the Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix after he lost the 205 pound title to Vadim Nemkov in August last year.
When Valentin was asked if he had any message for Ryan, just like in his fight, he didn’t let things get ahead of him: “No, not for now, but once I start preparing, I’ll definitely send something out but for now, I’m not saying anything.”
#2-Liz Carmouche (16-7) defeated #3-Kana Watanabe (10-1-1) via KO (punches) at :35 of round one
#6-Sidney Outlaw (16-4) defeated #4-Myles Jury (19-6) via submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:44 of round three
#6-Daniel Weichel (42-12) defeated Keoni Diggs (9-1) via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
Christian Edwards (5-0) defeated Simon Biyong (7-2) via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Soren Bak (15-1) defeated Bobby Lee (7-2) via unanimous decision (30-26, 29-27, 29-27)
Corey Samuels (3-2) defeated Isaiah Hokit (0-1) via knockout (punches) at :10 of round one
Jaylon Bates (3-0) defeated Cody Matthews (1-2) via submission (arm bar) at 4:04 of round two
Taylor Johnson (7-2) defeated Lance Wright (5-2) via submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:58 of round one
John de Jesus (14-9) defeated John Macapa (23-6-2) via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)