Fedor protege Valentin Moldavsky took a while to get going but gradually picked apart Ernest James before scoring the TKO finish at Bellator 202.
There’s nothing quite like a heavyweight fight to open up a main card — and that’s what fans got at Bellator 202 in Thackerville, Oklahoma on Friday. Russia’s Valentin Moldavsky had competed in RIZIN, and won his Bellator debut against Carl Seumanutafa just over a year ago. He’d been out of the cage since then, however. On Friday at the WinStar World Casino and Resort, he was welcomed back by Ernest James, who had won his Bellator and pro debut last October at Bellator 184.
Moldavsky, of course, is a protege of Fedor Emelianenko, and brought plenty of expectations with him as a result. James connected with a heavy leg kick early, and had a noticable size advantage over the Russian. Moldavsky held center, looking for a way in on the bigger man. James whiffed with a high kick, which allowed Moldavsky to move in and at least connect, but he’d find himself outside against a moment later. They’d clinch in the center then move to the fence, with Moldavsky looking for a takedown, but unable to land it. They’d separate, and Moldavsky would again look for a takedown, with James easily escaping. With just under a minute to go, Moldavsky would connect with a solid left and right, arguably the most significant strikes of the round. He’d add another combo or two as time wore down and finally tagged James, who went to his knees and ate a number of hammer fists prior to the bell.
Round two was heavy on the clinching early, though James was showing a bit of damage around the face that he incurred in the first. A brief exchange in the middle led to another clinch along the cage, and a warning from the ref to stay active. Moldavsky would fire off a right hand a little bit later, while James struggled to find the mark as time wore on. James’ eye was beginning to swell, and he ate a left followed by a right hand to that injured eye that nearly dropped him. He ate several more shots while backpedaling, and Moldavsky moved in for the kill. With James covering up, Valentin Moldavsky unleashed a few more bombs before the ref had seen enough.
Valentin Moldavsky def. Ernest James by TKO, Round 2, 4:03