While Ryan Bader was tied up in the Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix, Valentin Moldavsky was taking care of business in the heavyweight division, eventually capturing the interim heavyweight title by beating Timothy Johnson at Bellator 261 in June. Bader will try to again prove his status as the top heavyweight in the promotion when he puts his world title on the line against Moldavsky in a unification bout on Jan. 29.
The fight will serve as the main event of Bellator 273, which will go down from Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona, Bellator announced on Monday.
Bader will enter the bout fresh off a knockout loss to Corey Anderson in the Grand Prix semifinals. The tournament was Bader’s chance to regain the light heavyweight title he’d lost to Vadim Nemkov in August 2020. Bader has not fought at heavyweight since a title defense against Cheick Kongo in September 2019. That fight ended in a no contest in the first round after an accidental eye poke by Bader. He won the title in January 2019, knocking out Fedor Emelianenko in the finals of the Bellator Heavyweight World Grand Prix.
Moldavsky is riding a six-fight winning streak. All six of those wins have come in the Bellator cage, where he debuted in July 2017. Moldavsky has established a sort of patient dominance, winning five of his six Bellator bouts by decision.
In addition to Bader vs. Moldavsky, Bellator confirmed that former bantamweight champion Darrion Caldwell will step in the cage to face off with Enrique Barzola, who was the winner of the second season of “The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America” and will be making his Bellator debut.