27-year old Team Fedor heavyweight Valentin Moldavsky gave up the first round, but won the last two to overcome Linton Vassell at Bellator 218.
At Bellator 218 on Friday night in Thackerville, OK, longtime Bellator light heavyweight Linton Vassell made his promotional debut at heavyweight. Britain’s ‘The Swarm,’ who had twice fought for gold at 205lbs in Bellator MMA, had not fought at heavyweight in nearly ten years, but was excited to fight at his “natural weight” — with Ryan Bader, the organization’s light heavyweight champ, also holding heavyweight gold, which could set up a rematch down the line.
Immediately noticeable was the size of Linton Vassell, despite being a former light heavyweight. He was the larger man in the cage, but Moldavsky held his own in the first exchange, and Vassell then opted to pursue a takedown, getting it along the fence roughly ninety seconds in. ‘The Swarm’ looked to step over into a choke, but Moldavsky reversed and moved to his feet.
From there, Moldavsky was looking to land some big overhands, with Vassell walking him down, throwing kicks and looking to set up another takedown. Which he secured with just over a minute and a half remaining. That allowed Vassell to set up some elbows, as he took the round with little question.
🔥 @LDV_TheSwarm with the takedown early in round one!
— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) March 23, 2019
Moldavsky would connect early in the second, getting Vassell to the ground in the process. However, Linton quickly reversed position, getting on top in guard. Back on the feet, Vassell pursued and converted his own takedown, which the Russian attempted to defend with a guillotine. Moldavsky, however, reversed before Vassell could do much damage. Moldavsky moved into an arm-triangle choke, which looked dicey, but the British fighter escaped, only to give up his back in the process. The round would finish with Moldavsky in control, and it was anyone’s fight heading into round three.
It was Moldavsky with the takedown early in the third. Vassell trapped a leg but was stuck on his side, which allowed the Russian plenty of control time. Vassell, meanwhile, could not escape, and was at risk of giving up his back. Vassell was tiring, Moldavsky was controlling. Pressuring. And slowly punishing. Time was now a factor, with Vassell likely needing a finish, or at least to explode to his feet first. Moldavsky, however, alternated his punches between the body and head of his opponent, picking up the pace a little as the round progressed. Vassell never did make it back up before the bell, allowing Moldavsky to secure a decision win.
Valentin Moldavsky def. Linton Vassell by unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-27)