Linton Vassell got his revenge, and earned himself a title shot at Bellator 292 on Friday.
Vassell, a former light heavyweight title challenger in Bellator, has now found his stride as a heavyweight, having won five straight. His most recent win came via a ground n’ pound finish of Valentin Moldavsky, in a rematch that has evened up their career series 1-1.
It’s a huge win, one that has earned him another shot against Ryan Bader, who he fell to in his light heavyweight title challenge. Bader now reigns as Bellator’s heavyweight king, which puts a new wrinkle on this rematch.
Either way, Vassell (23-8, 1NC) agreed his win over Moldavsky ranks as the biggest of his career.
“I’m going to say yes. One because the way I did it, and two, it was a very special fight, because it was a number one contender, and it was a rematch,” Vassell explained following the fight. “So I had those two things on my mind.”
“To be honest, it wasn’t that that was playing on my mind. It was just like, ‘I can’t lose to him again!’ Because I’m 39 now, so it’s not like ‘I’ll get him next time.’ It’d probably be like ‘I won’t get you next time and I won’t fight for the belt.’ So yeah, it was the icing on the cake to get the win, and win the way I did.”
Of course, 39 is the new 29 when it comes to heavyweight, where careers go longer and power is the last to fade. Cheick Kongo was in action last year at 48 years young. Champ Bader is 39 himself.
“I really do feel like I’ve got another, couple more years. I won’t do it forever, but win that belt, that’s the plan, and defend it a couple times,” Vassell said on that front. “And then I can hang up my boots, hang up my gloves, and go on my merry way.”
Watch the full Bellator 292 post-fight media appearance from Linton Vassell above.