Bellator 244 “Bader vs. Nemkov” took place Friday, August 21, 2020 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. In the headlining bout of the third card since Bellator MMA’s return, “champ-champ” Ryan Bader (27-5, 1 NC) put his Light Heavyweight title on the line against Russian juggernaut Vadim Nemkov (11-2).
The first round was razor close, but I’d slice it Bader’s way from the power strikes and the one takedown he landed. Nemkov was giving as good as he got though, landing body shots and kicks, rolling his head to diminish or duck a lot of Bader’s overhand rights.
If the opening frame was close, the second frame was nothing of the sort. Nemkov was stinging repeatedly with his left hand and then crushed Bader with a right kick to the head, rushing in to immediately start pouring on hammerfists. Referee Kerry Hatley gave Bader every chance to survive but when Nemkov knocked him down for the third time he finally waved it off by TKO at 3:02 of the second round for the new 205 lb. champion.
The finish can be seen above with the rest of the action below, both courtesy of Bellator MMA.
“Big” John McCarthy was there for the only post-fight interview of the entire card. Vadim Nemkov was joined by a translator to help with the questions.
“That was my plan. When I studied his film, I saw that Bader wasn’t moving well when he backs up. The plan was to constantly move forward and it paid dividends. I was surprised the referee wasn’t stopping the fight, but I sent him to the canvas three times. I did what I had to do to win. It’s very important for me. Me and Ryan Bader are the top two in the world right now. There are a lot of Light Heavyweights in UFC but I feel like Bader and I could beat any of them.”
Former champion “The Jewel” Julia Budd (13-3) looked to get back to her winning ways in a match with Jessy Miele (9-3) scheduled for a maximum of three rounds.
Miele tried to be aggressive with Budd early, but found her head getting snapped back by a right hand each time she’d get close. Eventually Budd landed a shot so clean that her corner Lance Gibson was yelling at her to come forward and finish her off. She put Miele against the cage, landed knees, and took her down with 20 seconds left to close R1.
Miele had one moment of glory in round two when she popped Budd with a straight left and momentarily had her backpedaling, but Budd recovered quickly with a right body kick and right hand and went back to dominating. She took Miele down with 50 seconds left and was landing heavy elbows on top to solidify the scorecard for Round 2 in her favor.
Budd’s most one-sided round was the third and final round, taking Miele down 42 seconds in and only letting her back up with under 10 seconds to go to see if she could land a walk off knockout late in the fight.
The judges returned a unanimous decision in Budd’s favor of 30-26 and 30-27 X2, and no post-fight interview followed.
Veteran Heavyweight slugger “Big Country” Roy Nelson (23-18) made his way back to the cage for a bout with the almost unblemished up-and-coming Valentin Moldavsky (9-1).
Nelson came in just under the 265 lb. weight limit and looked every bit of it inside the cage. He tried to put his weight on Moldavsky against the cage with an early takedown shot, but Moldavsky turned him around and the two shoved each other across the canvas. When they weren’t tied up Moldavsky was sneaking in elbows and knees, and when he got the range he started landing hard shots to the head that stung. It was a clear 10-9 for Moldavsky.
Nelson’s only effect strikes in round two were knees from clinch, but they weren’t slowing Moldavsky down one bit. Three minutes in and Nelson was sucking wind loudly, while Moldavsky was continuing to chip away with short left elbows and step back for the big right hand. He let an offense flurry go with ten seconds left to solidify a dominant round. Nelson chased him for the remainder of the fight but could never land the clean overhand right that he needed.
The scores were 30-27 X3 all for Valentin Moldavsky. No post-fight interview followed.
Rounding out the main card were Middleweight contenders John Salter (17-4) and Andrew Kapel (15-6).
Takedowns were the story of the first round. Salter hit them effectively and was constantly looking to improve position when he had them. At one point he had a full mount but Kapel tied up his wrists effectively to prevent heavy damage, got a sweep, but Salter threw up a leg triangle and was able to sweep right back to the top to dominate Round 1.
Multiple takedowns weren’t necessary in round two. Salter let Kapel come forward, clocked him with a left hand, shot the double and tripped him to the ground. Inch by inch he worked his way to full mount, and once he had it Kapel spent the rest of the round fending off a potential arm triangle choke, all while Salter sat on top and kept softening him up.
The third verse was essentially the same as the second, save for the fact Kapel’s defense finally broke down and Salter got the arm triangle choke that he wanted at 3:11. No post-fight interview followed.
For complete Bellator 244 results and coverage click here.