A rare fight-day switch has happened, with former UFC heavyweight Timothy Johnson replacing Javy Ayala in the Bellator 225 co-main event against Vitaly Minakov.
Bellator 225’s original co-main event was former heavyweight champion Vitaly Minakov taking on Javy Ayala. However, Bellator announced on their Twitter just hours prior to the event that Ayala has fallen out of the fight due to unknown reasons, and former UFC heavyweight Timothy Johnson will be taking his place in the fight against Minakov. Ayala is coming off of a knockout win over Frank Mir earlier this year, however, he has fallen out of the fight.
Johnson, on the other hand, is now in the co-main event. Johnson was a former ranked fighter in the UFC’s heavyweight division, with notable wins over the likes of Shamil Abdurakhimov, and Marcin Tybura. Johnson signed with Bellator coming off a win over Marcelo Golm in February of 2018, however, he would go on to lose his promotional debut via first-round knockout to Cheick Kongo last October.
Johnson’s opponent is the former undefeated champion, Vitaly Minakov. Minakov formerly won the heavyweight crown in 2013 with a TKO win over Alexander Volkov and defended it against Cheick Kongo prior to leaving Bellator to leaving for Fight Nights Global in 2015. He would win seven straight fights there prior to returning to Bellator in 2019, where he would lose a rematch to Kongo in his first returning bout.
When reached out for a statement, Bellator said the following:
“He was removed from the card on the advice of the Connecticut Boxing Commission. Azunna [Anyanwu] is not getting a new opponent, but he will be booked in the future and was compensated for this event.
The Johnson/Minakov fight is the rare fight-day switch. The most notorious fight-day switch of opponents was Seth Petruzelli stepping in on hours notice to defeat Kimbo Slice in 14 seconds at EliteXC: Heat. The Slice loss would lead to the downfall of the EliteXC, with the promotion shutting down not long after the Petruzelli win.