Bellator 261: Valentin Moldavsky Wants to Defend Interim Title if Bader Remains Absent

After five hard-fought rounds at Bellator 261, Valentin Moldavsky now holds gold.

Interim gold, that is. Up against Timothy Johnson, the resurgent former UFC heavyweight, Moldavsky controlled a fight that was a grinding, exhausting affair peppered with occasional bursts of heavy hitting.

“I’m very happy to win. I wish I’d ended it a little earlier, but it is what it is,” Moldavsky (11-1) said following the win. “I was prepared for a full five rounds. I wish I could have ended it earlier. Hopefully the next fight I can do that.”

Asked if there were any surprises from Johnson, who was in it until the end, the newly crowned interim champ replied “he turned out to be a little stronger physically than I expected, but that’s it.”

Given the nature of the belt Moldavsky now holds — interim — a title unification bout is to be expected. But heavyweight champ Ryan Bader is currently tied up in the light heavyweight grand prix, which could easily go another seven or eight months depending on scheduling.

Moldavksy didn’t have a message for the Bellator heavyweight champ on Friday. “I don’t want to send any messages. Whenever the fight comes up, then we’ll talk,” he stated. However, he told Cageside Press that he wants to defend his belt if the Bader situation drags on.

“If Bader’s going to be absent for a long time, I’d like to defend the interim title,” said Modavsky.

Earlier in the Bellator 261 post-fight press conference, Moldavsky expressed interest in the recently announced Moscow event: “Yes, I want to fight in Moscow,” the new champ stated, bypassing his translator and answering in English. Which is likely a sign of just how much he wants to join coach Fedor Emelianenko on the Bellator Moscow card.

Watch the full Bellator 261 post-fight press conference with Valentin Moldavsky above.