For the first time in promotion history, Bellator MMA will crown an interim champion.
At Bellator 261 this June, Tim Johnson will face Russia’s Valentin Moldavsky with interim heavyweight gold on the line. The move was necessitated by Ryan Bader’s entry into the organization’s light heavyweight grand prix. Bader, still Bellator MMA heavyweight champion, will face Corey Anderson in the semifinals of the 205lb tournament later this year.
Johnson (15-6) is ranked #1 overall in the heavyweight division, and has strung together a three-fight win streak over increasingly tough competition. The American finished Tyrell Fortune and Matt Mitrione before defeating Cheick Kongo by split decision at home atop the Bellator Paris card last year.
Moldavsky (10-1) has yet to lose under the Bellator banner. His only loss to date came during the RIZIN 2016 World Grand Prix; since arriving stateside in 2017, he’s won five straight, most recently picking up a decision over Roy “Big Country” Nelson last August.
In addition to the heavyweight main event, Bellator 261 has added the following match-ups:
Myles Jury vs. Sidney Outlaw (lightweight)
Isaiah Hokit vs. Aaron Hughes (lightweight)
Lena Ovchynnikova vs. Kyra Batara (women’s strawweight)
Bellator 261 is set to take place June 25, 2021 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT.