Bellator Books Heavyweight Title Unification Bout Between Ryan Bader and Valentin Moldavsky

Valentin Moldavsky stands in the Bellator cage with a championship belt around his waist.
Valentin Moldavsky will face Ryan Bader in late January (Lucas Noonan / Bellator MMA)

Bellator will unify their heavyweight belts early next year, as Ryan Bader has been booked to face Valentin Moldavsky for the main event of a January 29th event.

The fight is set to take place at Bellator 273, which will happen at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, per a press release issued Monday.

Bader will be fighting to defend his heavyweight belt after an unsuccessful recent stint at light heavyweight.

The current Bellator Heavyweight Champion lost his light heavyweight belt last year, getting stopped in the second round due to punches from Vadim Nemkov.

Bader attempted to work his way towards another light heavyweight title reign earlier this year by fighting in Bellator’s eight-man grand prix. After defeating Lyoto Machida in the opening round, he was stopped in the semi-finals by former UFC fighter Corey Anderson.

Bader has held Bellator’s heavyweight belt since 2019 when he defeated Fedor Emelianenko to take the then-vacant title.

Bellator’s heavyweight division has remained active despite Bader’s absence since 2019. Moldavsky was crowned the promotion’s interim heavyweight champion in June, earning the belt with a unanimous decision win over Timothy Johnson.

The victory was Moldavksy’s sixth consecutive victory since joining the promotion in 2017.

Former Champ Caldwell To Face Newcomer Barzola

Enrique Barzola is expected to make his Bellator debut at Bellator 273, facing former Bellator Bantamweight Champion Darrion Caldwell.

Barzola will be making his first appearance after wrapping up a 10-fight stint in the UFC from 2015 to 2020. His campaign in the promotion was successful, attaining six wins through 10 appearances.

Barzola’s last appearance was in March 2020, where he fought to a draw against Rani Yahya.

Caldwell will be fighting to snap a two-fight skid. He fought to a split decision earlier this year, losing to Leandro Higo in the end. The fight was his return to bantamweight after a three-fight run in the Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix.

Updated Lineup

Bout 2: Ryan Bader (28-7) vs. Valentine Moldavsky (11-1) (Bellator Heavyweight Championship)

Bout 1: Darrion Caldwell (14-5) vs. Enrique Barzola (16-5-2) (Bantamweight)

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