Tim Johnson, Valentin Moldavsky to Vie for Interim Heavyweight Strap Atop Bellator 261

With its heavyweight champ tied up in the light heavyweight tournament, Bellator MMA is adding an interim heavyweight belt to the mix.

On Friday, MMA Junkie announced that Bellator is planning an interim heavyweight title tilt between Timothy Johnson (15-6) and Valentin Moldavsky (10-1) atop Bellator 261. The June 25 event will be held in the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., and fans will reportedly be in attendance per Bellator head Scott Coker in a media scrum on Thursday. The promotion has since confirmed this news via press release.

Johnson punched his ticket to a title fight with a three-fight win streak over Tyrell Fortune, Matt Mitrione and Cheick Kongo in 2020. The burly brawler is currently on his longest win streak since a run from 2011 to 2015 where he finished eight consecutive foes to get into the Ultimate Fighting Championship. A tenure where Johnson alternated wins and losses in seven UFC bouts led to him joining the Bellator ranks, where he lost to Kongo and Vitaly Minakov before his current run.

Moldavsky’s win streak inside the Bellator cage is set at five right now, since making his promotional debut in 2017 and beating names like Roy Nelson and Linton Vassell. The Russian holds a finish rate below .500, which is low for a typical heavyweight, and four of his five Bellator wins have come by unanimous verdict. The 29-year-old’s lone defeat came against Amir Aliakbari in the Rizin Fighting Federation openweight tournament in 2016.

The promotion has also added a few additional bouts to the June card in the form of a lightweight match pitting Myles Jury (19-5) against Sidney Outlaw (15-4), as well as a strawweight clash between Kyra Batara (8-4) and Lena Ovchynnikova (12-6). In the latter, neither woman has competed since mid-2019. Finally, a lightweight bout between an MMA newcomer in Isaiah Hokit (0-0) and Aaron Hughes (1-1) will be on tap on the prelims.

Bellator 261 will go down at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., on June 25. The current headliner sees Johnson take on Moldavsky for interim heavyweight gold. No main card match has been announced.

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