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, current heavyweight champion and former light heavyweight king Ryan Bader faces interim champion Valentin Moldavsky in a unification fight. This is Bader’s first heavyweight fight since he did not compete with Cheick Kongo in 2019.
The 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 preliminaries, viewable at the top of the page beginning with 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 the Bellator YouTube channel if you live in certain other international jurisdictions. BBC iPlayer has this card for streaming in the UK.
Principal card (Show time10 p.m. ET)
ryan bader against Valentin Moldavsky
round 1 – Bader stiff jab. Great right hand! Moldavsky is shaken and briefly sinks to the canvas. They hold on and briefly struggle as Bader now has to defend against a takedown. He throws some elbows. Moldavsky has a low hook and can get Bader to the mat and into lateral control. Moldavsky tried to isolate an arm, but Bader knows that. Bader gets back to his feet, but Moldavsky puts him down again and turns his back on him, but Bader gets back to his feet, only for the return to the canvas to happen. Moldavsky with hook inside. He throws short right hands to the face. Valentin with the body lock as they get back on their feet. Bader using his right arm to perch outside the cage. The action has slowed down and they are at an impasse. Bader throws a short knee to the body. Moldavsky’s elbow and at the start Bader connects a left hook. Now it’s Bader who’s going for the takedown and he’s looking for the one leg and he gets it. Bader with valuable upper control as Moldavsky loses control of Ryan’s left arm. 10-9 Baddest.
round 2 – Moldavsky hits a right hand. Counter-attack left hook from the interim champion. Slaps to the left of Moldavsky. Right hand and then a lock to the body as Bader looks for the takedown. Moldavsky stands tall for the time being. He puts Bader against the cage. Oh God. Ball finished off by Bader in the knee. The fight resumes in the center of the cage. Bader swinging that overhand to the right but missing on that occasion. Change of level by Bader, but Moldavsky notices and puts Bader against the fence. Bader trip attempt but it doesn’t work. Bader is now in a headlock but risks being turned on his back. Moldavsky up and throwing a few strikes before Baders gets to his feet…only to be knocked down. The interim champion throws some knees to the thigh. Bader has now moved away from the fence, but Ryan manages to get closer, but is taking a few shots in the process. Good right hands from Moldavsky. Clear round for the interim champion. 19-19.
Round 3 – Nice jab from Bader. Moldavsky returns fire and now ducks under Bader’s overhand for the body lock. Good use of the whizzer by Bader to stop the takedown, but Moldavsky still has waist control. Brief flip to Bader’s canvas by Moldavsky before Ryan returns. Elbow from Bader as he tries to stop another takedown. Booing crowd. This is kind of the fight that was expected to be. Single-leg takedown by Moldavsky and Bader gives his back again. More knees to Bader’s thigh and right hands to the head. Much clinch, 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 exchange blows but miss everything and now Moldavsky fires only for Bader to spread out. Moldavsky gets to his feet and Bader misses the uppercut. I hope you like wrestling and clinching because you are practicing it more and more. Bader turns Moldavsky around and now lands a very important takedown. The champion has his opponent’s back, then Moldavsky grabs the fence twice. Do it three times. Beltran should have taken a point for that. Valentin gets back on his feet, but Bader wants the one leg and snatches it from him and falls in half guard. He is up for grabs in the final round. 38-38.
Round 5 – Bader with the jab. Moldavsky’s left hook is blocked. Moldabsky and Bader grabbed each other and pushed each other for position. They separate a minute in the final frame. Moldavsky throws a jab and then goes for the takedown, which Bader successfully denies. Straight on to the right for Bader. Nice combo from Moldavsky. Bader closes the distance and they are tied once more. Moldavsky’s unsuccessful stumble but elbow at the end. Oh, Bader’s takedown almost lands him on his back, but he snaps out of it. Another fight then ensues and Moldavsky ends up on top with 2:30 and counting to go. Moldavsky with some knees as Bader rises but there is the return of the canvas and this time it is further from the fence. Bader explodes to his feet following two short right hands, apparently he grabbed the fence, now he puts his hand 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. I’m not sure how many of these elbows are actually landing. Bader looking for a kimura grab. Moldavsky picks Bader up and drops him to end the fight. Hmm… I think Bader had more offense and therefore should win. 48-47 Baddest.
official decision: Ryan Bader def. Valentin Moldavsky via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47) to retain Bellator Heavyweight Champion
Benson Henderson def. Islam Mamedov via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Henry Corrales right. Aiden Lee by 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 pm ET)
Enrique Barzola right. Darrion Caldwell via TKO (strikes) at 3:01 of Round 3
Chris Gonzalez right. Saad Awad by KO (head kick and punches) at minute 36 of the first round
Defeat of Dalton Rosta. Duane Johnson by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Nikita Mikhailov right. 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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