Image Credit: Bellator MMA
On the main card of Bellator 244, a matchup has been booked that could be a passing of the torch moment between generations. Roy Nelson is set to take on Valentin Moldavsky at heavyweight as part of the event on August 21.
“Big Country” has just turned 44 years of age and this will be his sixth match in three years for Bellator and the forty-second in 16 years as a professional fighter. Nelson (23-18) holds notable victories over the likes of Antonio “Minotauro” Nogueira, Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, Mirko Cro Cop, Cheick Kongo, Stefan Struve, Brendan Schaub and Matt Mitrione. He fought 19 times in the UFC where he was awarded ‘KO of the night” four times and won the 10th season of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’. In addition to his remarkable KO power, he is also a Pan-American champion and a black belt in BJJ under Renzo Gracie.
However, since he joined Bellator, his career is going through a difficult period. After an excellent debut at Bellator 183, defeating Javy Ayala by unanimous decision, Nelson is now on a run of 4 consecutive defeats. Those losses have come against Matt Mitrione, Sergei Kharitonov, Mirko Cro Cop and Frank Mir. The Las Vegas athlete therefore knows that he must win on Friday as he cannot afford a fifth consecutive defeat, and will hope his experience at the top level gives him an advantage over Moldavsky.
The Russian fighter of Fedor Emelianenko’s team, Moldavsky (9-1), has gone the distance in 5 of his 9 professional victories. His only defeat was a split decision in RIZIN against former Greco-Roman wrestling world champion, Amir Aliakbari. Like his Master Emilianenko, Moldavsky was also Combat Sambo World Champion. He’s been in Bellator since 2017 and according to the bookmakers, is the favourite going into this contest.
On the undercard of Bellator 244, Vladimir Tokov is expected to take on Chris Gonzalez in a battle of unbeaten fighters.
Like Moldavsky, and like his older brother Anatoly, Vladimir “Vova” Tokov (5-0) also comes from Fedor Emelianenko’s Alexander Nevsky team. He has been a professional since 2016 and his last bout took place in October at Bellator 229 where he defeated Brandon Hastings by unanimous decision. He won in the same way in his promotional debut against Ryan Walker in March 2019 at Bellator 218. Tokov fought his first 3 professional contests in Russia, winning 1 by KO and 1 by submission.
He will have to face Chris Gonzalez (4-0), a 6 times All American and USA national team member at the 2016 Greco-Roman wrestling World Cup. He self-described in an interview last year as ‘the best MMA wrestler’. The Alpha Male fighter was signed by Bellator in late 2018, shortly after his victorious professional debut with a first-round finish at Gladiator Challenge. In Bellator, he has a streak of 3 wins by decision, the last one coming against Aaron McKenzie last February.
Bellator 244 is set to be headlined by a light heavyweight title fight as Ryan Bader aims to defend his belt against Vadim Nemkov.