The Bellator MMA cage was at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., on Friday for Bellator 244: Bader vs. Nemkov, headlined by the light heavyweight title fight between dual-division champion Ryan Bader and Vadim Nemkov.
Bader held both the Bellator MMA heavyweight and light heavyweight titles coming into the fight. He captured the 205-pound championship in June 2017 by defeating Phil Davis and earned the heavyweight title in January 2019 by knocking out Fedor Emelianenko in 35 seconds.
After Friday’s fights, Bader is down to one belt. Nemkov brutally stopped Bader in the second round of the main event in a fight that should have been stopped sooner.
Nemkov had a clear speed advantage over Bader, beating the champion to the punch during exchanges. After absorbing a combination, Bader changed levels and took the fight to the ground. Nemkov was active off his back, so Bader stood and let the Russian back to his feet. The first round was back and forth, but that would change in the second frame.
Nemkov connected with a right hand that stunned Bader and forced him to retreat. The end began when Nemkov landed a clean head kick that sent Bader crashing to the canvas. Nemkov went in for the finish and unloaded a series of punches. Bader tried to stand, but was sent back to the ground by a right hand. Nemkov continued to hit Bader with punches and Bader somehow made his way back standing and ran. Nemkov followed him and landed a left hand that put Bader down a third time. After another right hand landed, the referee stepped in to stop the fight.
“When we studied his film we saw that Ryan Bader doesn’t do very well when he’s backing up, when he’s getting bullied,” said Nemkov following the fight.
“I was more surprised that the referee wasn’t stopping the fight. I sent him to the canvas three times. Three different times. I did what I had to do and won the fight.”
Former champ Julia Budd returns to form
In the co-main event, former women’s featherweight champion Julia Budd faced Jessica “The Widowmaker” Miele. Budd was the inaugural Bellator MMA women’s featherweight titleholder. She defended the belt three times before losing it to Cris Cyborg in January.
Miele pressed forward in the early going and took the fight to Budd. Budd started a bit slow but quickly found her range and began connecting with right hands. She was able to close the distance off of punches and take Miele down late in the opening round.
In the second frame, Budd started mixing in kicks to the body. Miele fired back, but Budd overpowered her in the clinch. From the clinch, Budd took Miele down and delivered hard elbows. Heading into the final round, Budd was in control of the fight and that didn’t change in the third frame.
Miele came out in the final round with a sense of urgency. She pressed forward and landed punches. Budd used Miele’s aggressiveness against her and changed levels to secure a takedown.
On the ground, Budd delivered short punches to the body and head before looking to lock on an arm-triangle choke. She gave up on the choke and mounted Miele. Miele worked her way back to full guard and then to standing but there were only seconds left in the fight.
Budd looked impressive in her first fight since losing the belt. All three judges scored her clearly winning with one judge scoring a round 10-8.
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Valentin Moldavsky hands Roy Nelson fifth consecutive defeat
In heavyweight main card action, Valentin Moldavsky defeated Roy Nelson by unanimous decision in a lopsided fight. Moldavsky was either all the way on the outside of all the way on the inside against Nelson. He connected with his jab and combination at distance and controlled Nelson in the clinch.
Most of the bout took place in the clinch position with Nelson’s back against the cage. Moldavsky would disengage long enough to land punches and re-establish the clinch. Nelson was left looking to land that one big shot to end it but never had Moldavsky in any danger.
The loss was Nelson’s firth consecutive defeat. The 44-year-old defeated Javy Ayala in his Bellator MMA debut in September 2017, but hasn’t won a fight since.
Full Bellator 244 Results
- Vadim Nemkov def. Ryan Bader by TKO (strikes) at 3:02, R2
- Julia Budd def. Jessica Miele by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
- Valentin Moldavsky def. Roy Nelson by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- John Salter def. Andrew Kapel by submission (arm-triangle choke) at 3:11, R3
- Yaroslav Amosov def. Mark Lemminger by TKO (doctor stoppage) at 5:00, R1
- Sidney Outlaw def. Adam Piccolotti by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
- Josh Hill def. Érik Pérez by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
- Weber Almeida def. Salim Mukhidinov by TKO (punches) at 3:57, R1
- John de Jesus def. Vladyslav Parubchenko by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28)
- Chris Gonzalez def. Vladimir Tokov by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)
- Lucas Brennan def. Will Smith by TKO (punches) at 4:14, R2