With Tony Johnson Out, Ex-Champ Rafael Carvalho Steps Up Against Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov at Bellator 277

Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov Bellator MMA
Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov, Bellator 268 official weigh-in Credit: Alex Behunin/Cageside Press

Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov has a new opponent for his third foray into the Bellator MMA cage.

On Thursday, Bellator officials confirmed that with Tony Johnson out of the fight, Rafael Carvalho had stepped into the light heavyweight match-up, set for Bellator 277 on April 15.

Brazil’s UOL was first to report the news.

Carvalho, a former middleweight champ in the promotion, has competed at both 205 and 185lbs in recent years, but come up short in both weight classes. He’ll be looking to snap a three-fight skid against Yagshimuradov, after dropping bouts to Vadim Nemkov, Alex Polizzi, and Lorenz Larkin.

The ex-champ’s last win was a July 2019 unanimous decision victory over current UFC fighter Chidi Njokuani.

Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov will be looking to shake off a couple of losses of his own when he enters the cage later this month. The 32-year old from Turkmenistan, fighting out of Ukraine, entered the Bellator light heavyweight grand prix as a sizeable underdog, and wound up losing to finalist Corey Anderson early in the tournament. In his next outing, Yagshimuradov fell to Sweden’s Karl Albrektsson.

Bellator 277 takes place at the SAP Center in San Jose, CA on April 15, 2022. A.J. McKee puts his featherweight title on the line in a rematch with Patricio Pitbull in the main event. The light heavyweight grand prix wraps up in the co-main event, which sees champ Vadim Nemkov take on Corey Anderson.

The full Bellator 277 card currently consists of the following match-ups:

A. J. McKee (c) vs Patrício Pitbull – for the Bellator featherweight championship
Vadim Nemkov (c) vs. Corey Anderson – for the Bellator light heavyweight championship / grand prix finale
Aaron Pico vs. TBA
Timothy Johnson vs. Linton Vassell
Rafael Carvalho vs. Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov
Tyrell Fortune vs. Rakim Cleveland
Kyle Crutchmer vs. Michael Lombardo
Gaston Bolanos vs. Ali Jafri
Bobby Seronio III vs. Calob Ramirez
Rhalan Gracie vs. Tyson Miller
Edwin De Los Santos vs. Alberto Mendez
Theo Haig vs. Alan Benson
Laird Anderson vs. JT Donaldson
Socrates Hernandez vs. Rogelio Luna