Bellator’s heavyweight belts will be unified on Saturday night when the promotion presents a card from the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona, USA. In the main event, Bellator Heavyweight Champion Ryan Bader will meet interim titleholder Valentin Moldavsky.
Follow along throughout the evening for updates and results on the event.
Preliminary Card (7:25PM EST / 4:25PM PST) (Youtube)
Main Card (10:00PM EST / 7:00PM PST) (Showtime)
Bout 10: Ryan Bader (28-7) vs. Valentin Moldavsky (11-1) (Bellator Heavyweight Championship)
Bader Makes Late Comeback Against Moldvasky To Retain Heavyweight Belt
Ryan Bader retained his Bellator Heavyweight Championship on Saturday night, going five rounds against interim champ Valentin Moldavsky for a close unanimous decision win victory (48-47, 48-47 & 48-47).
Bader started the fight with a quick flurry of shots that nearly finished the bout. After that, he was in a back-and-forth grappling battle that saw him behind in the score at one point.
Bader started the fight strong, hurting Moldavsky with a right hand in the opening minute. Moldavsky was able to clinch and eventually take Bader down to slow his momentum down.
Bader secured a takedown of his own before the first round concluded.
Moldavsky likely took the second and third rounds on scorecards, controlling Bader with clinches and takedowns in both frames.
Bader got back into the fight in the fourth round, securing two takedowns against Moldavsky.
Fatigue was on full display as the fighters fought with everything on the line in the final round. Moldavsky shot in for a takedown on Bader against the fence for most of the fight. Bader used this position to land a series of short punches to the head of Moldavsky, doing little amounts of damage that accumulated.
Moldavsky finished the round with a takedown in the final minute.
Bader was returning to the heavyweight division after fighting in his past three bouts at the light heavyweight division. He lost his 205-pound belt in 2020, then attempted to get it back by competing in the promotion’s light heavyweight tournament last year.
Bader was eliminated from the tournament in October by Corey Anderson.
Bader’s next fight is already lined up. It was announced Saturday night that he will meet Cheick Kongo in a rematch on May 6th, fighting in Paris, France. Their first meeting was in 2019, where an accidental eye poke forced the fight to end in the first round.
Moldavsky became the interim Bellator heavyweight champ last year with a decision victory over Timothy Johnson. That win was his sixth consecutive victory for the promotion.
Bout 9: Benson Henderson (28-11) vs. Islam Mamedov (20-1-1) (Lightweight)
Henderson Snaps Losing Streak, Hands Mamedov Second Pro Loss
Benson Henderson broke the longest losing fight of his pro career on Saturday night, prevailing in an incredibly close split decision against Islam Mamedov after three rounds (29-28 Henderson, 29-28 Mamedov & 29-28 Henderson).
Large portions of the lightweight fight saw Henderson and Mamedov fight for control in grappling battles. Both fighters attempted numerous submissions, although none of them came close actually closing the fight out. This was best demonstrated in the second round, where momentum shifted numerous times in just a few minutes.
Henderson entered the fight in a potential must-win fight to stay on the Bellator roster, having lost his three previous bouts. This came against big names in the promotion like Michael Chandler and Jason Jackson.
The bout was only Mamedov’s second loss as a pro. He had gone over a decade without a loss. This included his Bellator debut last year, defeating Brent Primus via split decision.
Bout 8: Henry Corrales (19-6) vs. Aiden Lee (10-5) (Featherweight)
Corrales Earns Technical Decision After Accidental Eye Poke
Henry Corrales scored an anti-climactic win on Saturday night, as his fight against Aiden Lee went to a technical decision in the third round (29-28, 30-27 & 30-27).
This outcome came due to an accidental eye poke that Corrales landed in the final round. The eye poke hurt Lee and made the referee deem him unable to compete following a five-minute rest period.
Corrales succeeded before the sudden finish, landing solid strikes to the head and legs in the first and second rounds.
Corrales, a veteran of Bellator, has now won two consecutive bouts. His previous victory was a decision win against Vladyslav Parubchenko in October.
Lee was also coming off a win, as he submitted Aleksandr Osetrov on a Bellator card last year.
Bout 7: Sabah Homasi (15-10) vs. Jaleel Willis (15-3) (Welterweight)
Homasi Ends Losing Streak, Makes Statement With Quick Win
Sabah Homasi scored a quick win to open the main card, securing a first-round arm triangle choke win against Jaleel Willis.
Homasi took Willis down in the second minute. He initially attempted a rear naked choke, but later shifted into the top position where he secured the arm triangle. A tap came to end the fight while Homasi was in half guard.
Willis took a loss in his previous bout, getting submitted by Mukhamed Berkhamov in October.
Bout 6: Darrion Caldwell (14-5) vs. Enrique Barzola (16-5-2) (Bantamweight)
UFC Alum Barzola Defeats Former Champ Caldwell
Former UFC fighter Enrique Barzola won his UFC debut to finish the prelims, stopping Darrion Caldwell in the third round with ground and pound strikes.
A long flurry of strikes from Barzola on the back of Caldwell caused the fight to end eventually. Barzola also scored with ground and pound shots in the second round, although he didn’t come close to finishing the bout then.
The first round saw Caldwell get the best of a grappling-heavy battle. The fight was much closer on the ground, with Barzola slowly gaining momentum in the battle.
Caldwell, a former Bellator champ, is now on a three-fight losing streak. His previous losses included a split decision loss to Leandro Higo and a submission defeat up at featherweight against AJ McKee Jr.
Barzola was appearing for the first time since a 10-fight UFC run.
Bout 5: Saad Awad (24-13) vs. Chris Gonzalez (6-1) (Lightweight)
Gonzalez Defeats Veteran Awad In Less Than A Minute
Chris Gonzalez bounced back from his sole pro loss in explosive fashion, defeating Bellator veteran Saad Awad in the first minute with strikes.
Gonzalez dropped Awad early with a head kick. Awad was hurt badly by this shot, causing the referee to end the bout only moments after.
Gonzalez took his first loss in 2021, getting stopped by veteran Goiti Yamauchi. Before then, he had put together six wins, including five in Bellator.
Awad snapped an extensive skid last year, defeating Nate Andrews with a first-round finish. Before then he had lost four in a row and took a no-contest outcome.
Bout 4: Dalton Rosta (5-0) vs. Duane Johnson (6-2) (Middleweight)
Undefeated Rosta Picks Up Decision Win Over Johnson
Rising middleweight prospect Dalton Rosta had a good showing on the prelims, earning a safe unanimous decision win over Duane Johnson (30-27, 30-27 & 30-27).
Rosta showed his sharp striking in the first round. His game plan shifted in the second round, as he took Johnson down and controlled most of the fight on the ground.
A confident Rosta went back to striking in the final round, landing good strikes on Johnson while taunting at times.
Rosta’s undefeated record now includes six wins since turning pro in 2019. He has gone the distance in his past three fights now, including a bout against Tony Johnson last year.
Johnson was booked as a short-notice fighter in this booking, stepping in to replace Romero Cotton. He was coming off a quick submission win in his Bellator debut last year, defeating Deven Fisher.
Bout 3: Nikita Mikhailov (8-1) vs. Blaine Shutt (8-5) (Bantamweight)
Mikhailov Stops Shutt Late For Second Bellator Win
Nikita Mikhailov had a dominant victory on Saturday, stopping Nikita Mikhailov in the third round after a strong showing in earlier rounds.
Mikhailov wobbled Shutt just seconds into the fight, connecting cleanly with a right cross. Shutt was able to slow the momentum of Mikhailov with a takedown attempt right after.
Mikhailov was able to control the rest of the first round, taking full guard on top.
Shutt pulled guard with a guillotine choke attempt in the second round, although Mikhailov was able to eventually escape and take full guard yet again.
Mikhailov hurt Shutt with punches again in the third round, landing a loud left cross. Mikhailov then landed ground and pound from the back of Shutt, causing the referee to step in and put an end to the bout.
Mikhailov now has a strong five-fight winning streak. His Bellator debut in October was also a decision win, defeating Brian Moore.
Shutt lost in his prior Bellator fight, dropping a unanimous decision to former UFC fighter Erik Perez in May.
Bout 2: Lucas Brennan (5-0) vs. Ben Lugo (5-4) (Featherweight)
Featherweight Prospect Brennan Earns Sixth Pro Win
Lucas Brennan had another impressive showing on Saturday night, submitting Ben Lugo in the first round via arm triangle choke.
The fast win continued Brennan’s quick ascension up the featherweight ranks.
Brennan, a 21-year-old prospect, now has an undefeated record of six wins. These wins, which have all taken place in the Bellator cage, include four submission victories.
Lugo was making his return to action after a year outside of the cage. His previous fight was a majority decision loss to now-UFC fighter Natan Levy in August 2020.
Bout 1: Ben Parrish (5-1) vs. Sullivan Cauley (2-0) (Light Heavyweight)
Cauley Finishes Parrish Late In The First
Sullivan Cauley kept his undefeated record alive to open Saturday’s card, stopping Ben Parrish in the first round with ground and pound shots.
Cauley secured a takedown in the opening minute of the fight. This allowed him to unload with ground and pound that caused visible damage to Parrish. A steady flurry of shots late in the round eventually caused the referee to step in and end the fight.
Cauley entered the fight on Saturday with a flawless record of two wins. His prior fight was a finish win over Dean Clash in October.
Parrish earned a massive upset in his Bellator debut last year, stopping undefeated prospect Christian Edwards in just 38 seconds.