Bellator MMA kicks off its 2022 schedule with a heavyweight title fight at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona.
In the main event of Bellator 273, reigning heavyweight champion and former light heavyweight king Ryan Bader takes on interim champ Valentin Moldavsky in a unification bout. This is Bader’s first heavyweight fight since a no contest with Cheick Kongo way back in 2019.
The co-main event is a lightweight bout between former UFC champion Benson Henderson and rising contender Islam Mamedov.
Bellator 273 kicks off with a free live stream of the prelims, which can be watched at the top of the page starting at a special early start time of 7:30 PM ET/4:30 PM PT. Showtime has the main card at 10 PM ET/7 PM PT. You can watch the main card on Bellator’s YouTube channel if you live in certain other international jurisdictions. BBC iPlayer has this card for streaming in the United Kingdom.
Main Card (Showtime, 10 p.m. ET)
Ryan Bader vs. Valentin Moldavsky
Round 1 – Stiff jab by Bader. Big right hand! Moldavsky is rocked and he sinks to the canvas briefly. They clinch and wrestle briefly as Bader now has to defend a takedown. He throws some elbows. Moldavsky has an underhook and he is able to take Bader to the mat and in side control. Moldavsky tried to isolate an arm but Bader is wise to it. Bader back to his feet but Moldavsky gets him back down and has his back, but Bader again rises to his feet, only for the mat return to happen. Moldavsky with a hook in. He throws some short right hands to the face. Valentin with the body lock as they’re back to their feet. Bader using his right arm to posture off the cage. The action has slowed and they’re in a stalemate. Bader throws a short knee to the body. Elbow by Moldavsky and on the exit Bader lands a left hook. Now it’s Bader going for the takedown and he’s looking for the single leg and gets it. Bader with valuable top control as Moldavsky loses grip of Ryan’s left arm. 10-9 Bader.
Round 2 – Moldavsky gets in a right hand. Counter left hook by the interim champ. Slapping left from Moldavsky. Right hand and then a body lock as Bader looks for the takedown. Moldavsky staying upright for the time being. He puts Bader up against the cage. Oh god. Ball shot by Bader on the knee. Fight resumes back at the center of the cage. Bader swinging that overhand right but missing on that occasion. Level change by Bader but Moldavsky is wise to it and he puts Bader up against the fence. Trip attempt by Bader but it doesn’t work. Now Bader has a headlock but he risks getting put on his back. Moldavsky on top and throwing some strikes before Baders rises to his feet… only to be taken down. The interim champ throws some knees to the thigh. Bader now dragged away from the fence but Ryan manages to get nearer to there but is taking some shots in the process. Good right hands by Moldavsky. Clear round for the interim champ. 19-19.
Round 3 – Good jab by Bader. Moldavsky returns fire and now ducks under a Bader overhand for the body lock. Good use of the whizzer by Bader to stop the takedown but Moldavsky still has waist control. Brief dump to the mat of Bader by Moldavsky before Ryan is back up. Elbow by Bader as he tries to stop another takedown. Crowd booing. This is kinda the fight it was expected to be. Single leg takedown by Moldavsky and Bader gives up his back again. More knees to Bader’s thigh and right hands to the noggin. A lot of clinching, another round for Moldavsky. 29-28 Moldavsky.
Round 4 – Bader unable to get the takedown to start the 4th. Good shot lands for Bader. Right hand by Moldavsky. They trade punches but miss everything and now Moldavsky shoots only for Bader to sprawl. Moldavsky to his feet and Bader misses on the uppercut. Hope you like wrestling and clinching because you’re getting more of it. Bader turns Moldavsky around and now he gets a very important takedown. The champ has his opponent’s back, then Moldavsky grabs the hell out of the fence twice. Make it three times. Beltran should’ve just taken a point for that. Valentin is back to his feet but Bader wants the single leg and he snatches it and lands in half-guard. It’s up for grabs in the final round. 38-38.
Round 5 – Bader with the jab. Moldavsky left hook is blocked. Moldabsky and Bader clinched up and jostling for position. They separate a minute into the final frame. Moldavsky gets in a jab and then looks for the takedown, which Bader denies successfully. Straight right by Bader. Good combo by Moldavsky. Bader closing the distance and they’re tied up once more. Failed trip by Moldavsky but an elbow at the end. Oh takedown by Bader almost leads to him being on his back but he scrambles out of it. Then another scramble ensues and Moldavsky winds up on top with 2:30 and counting to go. Moldavsky with some knees as Bader rises but there’s the mat return and this time it’s further out from the fence. Bader explodes up to his feet following two short right hands, seemingly grabbed the fence, now puts his hand up against one of the posts but doesn’t grab it. Crowd trying to get behind the Arizona native as he throws some elbows in hopes of stopping another takedown. Not sure how many of these elbows are actually landing. Bader looking for a kimura grip. Moldavsky lifts Bader up and dumps him down to end the fight. Hmm… I think Bader had more offense and thus should win? 48-47 Bader.
Official decision: Ryan Bader def. Valentin Moldavsky by unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47) to remain Bellator heavyweight champion
Benson Henderson def. Islam Mamedov via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Henry Corrales def. Aiden Lee via unanimous technical decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Sabah Homasi def. Jaleel Willis via submission (arm triangle) at 1:42 of round 1
Preliminary Card (Online at 7:30 p.m. ET)
Enrique Barzola def. Darrion Caldwell via TKO (strikes) at 3:01 of Round 3
Chris Gonzalez def. Saad Awad via KO (head kick and punches) at :36 of Round 1
Dalton Rosta def. Duane Johnson via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Nikita Mikhailov def. Blaine Shutt via TKO (strikes) at 3:23 of Round 3
Lucas Brennan def. Ben Lugo via submission (arm-triangle choke) at 2:27 of Round 1
Sullivan Cauley def. Ben Parrish via TKO (strikes) at 4:35 of Round 1
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