Bellator has introduced the first interim heavyweight title in promotion history.
Timothy Johnson and Valentin Moldavsky will face off for the Bellator interim heavyweight title June 25 at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut, the promotion announced Friday. The card will be dubbed Bellator 261.
Current heavyweight champion Ryan Bader is competing in the Bellator Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix, opening the door for the interim belt. Bader's mandatory challenger will be the interim champion if he returns to the division. In the event Bader remains at light heavyweight, where he is the former Bellator champ, the Johnson vs. Moldavsky winner will be named undisputed heavyweight champion, per a press release.
Johnson (15-6) has won three straight fights, most recently a split decision win over Cheick Kongo last October. The 36-year-old Minnesota native went 4-3 in the UFC between 2015 and 2018. Moldavsky (10-1) has won five straight since coming over to Bellator from Japan's Rizin promotion. The 29-year-old Ukraine native, who fights out of Russia, is coming off a unanimous decision win over Roy Nelson last August.
Bader (28-6, 1 NC) beat former UFC champion Lyoto Machida in the first round of the grand prix last month. In the semifinals, the Arizona resident faces fellow former UFC light heavyweight title contender Corey Anderson at a date to be determined.
Also announced for Bellator 261, UFC veteran Myles Jury will take on Sidney Outlaw in a lightweight bout. The card will also feature the pro MMA debut of former Fresno State wrestler Isaiah Hokit and a women's strawweight battle between Lena Ovchynnikova and Kyra Batara.