Bellator will introduce an interim heavyweight belt in a June 25th fight between Timothy Johnson and Valentin Moldavsky, as announced Friday. The matchup is set to headline Bellator 261, which will take place behind closed doors at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, USA.
The interim championship allows Bellator’s heavyweight division the chance to continue progressing without current champ Ryan Bader, who is currently participating in the promotion’s Light Heavyweight Grand Prix.
Johnson, a veteran of the sport and former UFC fighter, is getting the title shot after a strong run in 2020. Fighting three times in the year, he defeated rising prospect Tyrell Fortune along with experienced heavyweights Matt Mitrione and Cheick Kongo.
He has a tough challenge in front of him now, as he will face a fighter who is undefeated since entering the promotion.
Moldavsky is being put in the title position after years of being built up by Bellator. The 29-year-old fighter has scored five wins since joining Bellator in 2017. Most recently, Moldavsky defeated Roy Nelson on scorecards last year. It was reported last month by Knockdown News that Moldavsky just recently signed a new contract with Bellator.
Bellator also unveiled three fights for the preliminary card for their June 25th event.
Looking for his third consecutive win in Bellator, Myles Jury will return to fight Sidney Outlaw. Jury scored two wins last year, defeating notable names Brandon Girtz and Georgi Karakhanyan on scorecards. Outlaw returned to the win column last year with a victory over Adam Piccolotti.
Attempting to snap a two-fight skid in the promotion, Lena Ovchynnikova will fight Bellator newcomer Kyra Batara, who enters on a three-fight win streak from Combate Global (formerly known as Combate Americas).
The card will also see the professional MMA debut of Isaiah Hokit, who will fight Aaron Hughes.
Here is how the lineup looks at the moment.
Bout 4: Timothy Johnson (15-6) vs. Valentin Moldavsky (10-1) (Interim Bellator Heavyweight Championship)
Bout 3: Lena Ovchynnikova (12-6) vs. Kyra Batara (8-4) (Strawweight)
Bout 2: Isaiah Hokit (0-0) vs. Aaron Hughes (1-0) (Lightweight)
Bout 1: Myles Jury (19-5) vs. Sidney Outlaw (15-4) (Lightweight)