On Friday night, Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion Ryan Bader will head back down to 205-pounds for the first time in years to face Vadim Nemkov. Follow along throughout the night for live coverage of Bellator 244.
Preliminary Card (7:15PM EDT) (Youtube)
Main Card (10:00PM EDT) (Paramount Network)
Bout 11: Ryan Bader (27-5) vs. Vadim Nemkov (12-2) (Bellator Light Heavyweight Championship)
Nemkov Crowned New Light Heavyweight Champion
Dominant striking from Vadim Nemkov punched his ticket to gold in the main event, stopping Ryan Bader in the second round to become the new Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion.
The stoppage came in the second round after Bader took a large volume of strikes. The exchange started with a head kick that dropped Bader. Bader tried working his way back up to his feet to recover but was dropped two more times by punches before the referee stepped in.
“I was … surprised the referee wasn’t stopping the fight. I sent him to the canvas three times,” said Nemkov via a translator in his post-fight interview.
Nemkov’s reign begins following a strong four-fight streak of wins in Bellator previously, finishing three of the four fighters he was matched with.
While Bader has held the Bellator Light Heavyweight Championship since 2017, this was his first time defending the belt since a 2017 bout against Linton Vassell. Losing the light heavyweight belt, Bader is still Bellator’s heavyweight champion.
“He feels like he’s the best light heavyweight in the world,” said Nemkov’s translator after the fight.
Bout 10: Julia Budd (13-3) vs. Jessy Miele (9-3) (Featherweight)
Budd Bounces Back
In her first fight since losing her belt, Julia Budd won a decision over Jessy Miele. The win came after Budd controlled Miele in all three rounds with takedowns.
The fight was Budd’s first fight since losing her Bellator Featherweight Championship to Cris Cyborg in February. Her championship reign started in 2017, defending the belt three times in that time.
Miele won her previous Bellator fight, defeating Talita Nogueira on an October card.
Bout 9: Valentin Moldavsky (9-1) vs. Roy Nelson (23-18) (Heavyweight)
Moldavsky Continues Streak Against Nelson
A one-sided performance went to Valentin Moldavsky, earning a decision win over Roy Nelson. The fight saw Moldavsky control the fight by keeping Nelson against the cage, landing punches from the position as well.
The win was the fifth-consecutive for Moldavksy in Bellator. On the other side, it was the fifth-straight loss for Nelson, whose last win dates back to 2017, in his first Bellator fight.
Bout 8: John Salter (17-4) vs. Andrew Kapel (15-6) (Middleweight)
Salter Submits Kapel Following Dominant Performance
Earning his third consecutive Bellator win, John Salter finished Andrew Kapel in the third round with an arm triangle choke. The choke came from a full mount position, a position that Salter had held for a large part of the rounds before the stoppage.
Salter’s performance before the finish was exhausting for Kapel, as Salter would land many takedowns and stay on the ground for minutes after.
Salter’s two previous wins came against Chidi Njokuani and Costello van Steenis in Bellator.
Kapel’s last fight was his Bellator debut, stopping “King Mo,” Muhammad Lamal in the second minute with punches.
Bout 7: Yaroslav Amosov (23-0) vs. Mark Lemminger (11-1) (Catchweight 175 lbs)
Amosov Gets 24th-Straight Win
Yaroslav Amosov remained undefeated to finish the prelims, defeating Mark Lemminger due to a cut on Lemminger’s left eyebrow. The first round was a strong showing from Amosov, dropping Lemminger with strikes and staying in control on the ground until the fight ran out of time.
Shortly after Lemminger was dropped due to strikes in the first round the cut on Lemminger’s face became apparent.
The fight was a quick return for Lemminger, who defeated Jake Smith on a Bellator card in late July.
Amosov’s last fight was in February, getting a main event win over Ed Ruth. Amosov’s undefeated record now includes five wins in Bellator.
Bout 6: Adam Piccolotti (12-3) vs. Sidney Outlaw (14-4) (Lightweight)
Outlaw Gets Split Decision Win Over Piccolotti
In a matchup that saw the strengths of both fighters, Sidney Outlaw won a split decision over Adam Piccolotti. The fight was a bounce back for Outlaw, who lost a short-notice matchup against Michael Chandler last December.
The first two rounds were the best for Outlaw, who was in control for the majority of the rounds on the ground.
In the third round, Piccolotti took advantage of a position that put him on top, landing a flurry of dozens of punches to Outlaw’s head. Outlaw was able to take control of the position and end the round on top.
Bout 5: Erik Perez (19-7) vs. Josh Hill (19-3) (Bantamweight)
Hill Defeats Perez Via Decision
Picking up his second win in Bellator, Josh Hill won a unanimous decision fight over Erik Perez. The fight saw Hill land good singular shots on the feet while also being in control on the ground.
Hill’s best round was his last, taking Perez to the ground and trying for a rear naked choke in the later half of the round.
The previous fight for Perez was his Bellator debut. In that fight Perez lost in the first minute to Toby Misech due to strikes.
Bout 4: Weber Almeida (3-0) vs. Salim Mukhidinov (7-4) (Catchweight 148 lbs)
Almeida Earns Third Stoppage Bellator Victory
Picking up his third stoppage win in Bellator, Weber Almeida stopped Salim Mukhidinov in the first round with punches. The close fight came to a brutal end after Almeida connected with a counter hook that dropped Mukhidinov. Follow-up punches made the referee stop the fight and gave Almeida the win.
Almeida made his Bellator debut in 2019, defeating Odan Chincilla and Castle Williams.
The fight was Mukhidinov’s second straight loss in Bellator, as his previous fight saw him lose to Cris Lencioni.
Bout 3: John de Jesus (12-8) vs. Vladyslav Parubchenko (16-1) (Catchweight 150 lbs)
De Jesus Wins Bellator Debut
Getting his first Bellator win, John de Jesus picked up a unanimous win over Vladyslav Parubchenko. The win ended a high-tempo fight which saw both fighters have their moments.
De Jesus’ best moment was in the second round of the fight, landing a clean flying knee to the head of Parubchenko that caused him to bleed.
Parubchenko constantly pressed forward with clinches in the final round. While Parubchenko got a takedown in the closing moments of the fight, de Jesus was able to immediately get full mount from the position.
The fight was the first Bellator appearance from both fighters, both walking into the fight with many wins.
Bout 2: Vladimir Tokov (5-0) vs. Chris Gonzalez (4-0) (Lightweight)
Gonzalez Wins Split Decision Over Tokov
A back-and-forth battle between undefeated fighters favoured Chris Gonzalez over Vladimir Tokov via split decision. The close scorecards that went many different ways reflected how close the fight was.
Both fighters were able to get takedowns in the fight, although due to their high level they often did not stay there for long. The striking on the feet was very evenly matched.
The fight ended the five-fight undefeated record of Tokov, which included two 2019 wins in Bellator.
Gonzalez got his fourth Bellator, and his second win in 2020, as his last fight before was a February victory over Aaron McKenzie.
Bout 1: Lucas Brennan (2-0) vs. Will Smith (3-1) (Featherweight)
Brennan Remains Undefeated In Bellator
Kicking off the prelims, Lucas Brennan extended his undefeated record to three-in-a-row by defeating Will Smith. The win came in the second round after a series of unanswered punches on the ground made the referee step in.
Brennan’s ability on the ground gave him the edge throughout. A large portion of the first round was on the ground as well after Brennan scored a takedown.
The fight was the first time Brennan made it out of the first round in professional MMA, with his two previous wins being first-round submissions. Both of his two previous wins were in Bellator.