Bellator 244: Valentin Moldavsky “Ready to Stand” With Big Country

Having put together a solid string of four straight wins in Bellator’s heavyweight division, it’s clear as day why Valentin Moldavsky is seen as a future heavyweight champion.

Moldavsky (9-1) has the results, and the pedigree, after all. The Ukrainian-born fighter, who now represents Russia, is a Sambo champion both in Russia and Europe as a whole. He’s been training under the legendary Fedor Emelianenko at Team Fedor, and had an undefeated amateur career.

Since turning pro in 2015 Modavsky has lost just once, in RIZIN’s open-weight grand prix, in the semifinal round. Following his RIZIN stint, he moved to Bellator MMA. It seems he hasn’t looked back. This Friday at Bellator 244, Moldavsky faces Roy “Big Country” Nelson, the biggest name of his career to date. There could be a lot on the line.

“I don’t know if this win will get me closer to a title, or get me to a title,” Moldavsky said at the Bellator 244 media day this week. “For now, I’m just focusing on winning this fight.”

But those are the sort of questions Moldavsky will have to start thinking about moving forward, as the opposition gets tougher and the title draws nearer.

He has something of a contrast in styles with Nelson this Friday. Moldavsky has just one TKO finish. His bouts have either gone the distance, or ended in submission. Nelson is known for his crushing right hand — but “Big Country” also has high-level grappling of his own to fall back on.

“Roy’s tough, he’s fought some of the best fighters in the world,” Moldavsky observed, later adding “I really don’t know what to expect. I know that I’m ready to stand with him if he wants to stand, grapple if he wants to grapple, wrestle if he wants to wrestle. Where ever the fight goes, I’m ready for it.”

What he may not be ready for is the empty arena. “I don’t know,” Moldavsky admitted, asked about how the lack of fans might affect things on Friday.

Empty venue shows have been the norm for months now, as the coronavirus pandemic rages on globally. “I really don’t know what to expect. Obviously the crowd adds a certain degree of energy, but it also adds some pressure,” said Moldavsky. “I really don’t know. In a way, I think maybe it’s going to be easier without the crowd, but really, I don’t know. I’ve never fought without a crowd before.”

Bellator 244 takes place this Friday, August 21 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT. The main card airs live on Paramount Network and DAZN.