Bellator 244 featured the first Bellator title fight since the organization’s return to action. The event featured major title implications across multiple divisions. It was an especially big night for one fight team, as the Bellator 244 Post-Fight Matchmaker will determine the next opponents those fighters and more.
Bellator 244 Post-Fight Matchmaker
John Salter vs. Anatoly Tokov
John Salter put on a grappling clinic to open the main card, applying a smothering top game until he forced Andrew Kapel to submit in the third round. The Gardendale, Alabama native is now 8-1 in Bellator, with his only loss coming to Rafael Lovato Jr., who won the middleweight title in his following fight. Salter was originally slated to face Anatoly Tokov, with the winner expected to receive a shot at the vacant middleweight title. The Fedor Emelianenko protege Tokov has been on a tear to start his Bellator career, running through his first five opponents. This fight should be set back up as soon as possible.
Valentin Moldavsky vs. Timothy Johnson
Valentin Moldavsky continued his dominant Bellator run, beating “Big Country” Roy Nelson from pillar to post to earn a unanimous decision. Like Tokov, Moldavsky is another Team Fedor product and is unbeaten since losing in the semi-finals in the 2016 Rizin World Grand Prix. He is now 10-1 overall and 5-0 in Bellator. His next fight should be against Timothy Johnson, who has picked up two highlight-reel knockouts in as many fights. Johnson has looked like a completely new fighter of late, inserting himself into the upper echelon of Bellator’s heavyweight division. The winner of this fight should garner serious discussion for a title shot in their following fight.
Julia Budd vs. Cris Cyborg II
After losing her featherweight title to Cris Cyborg in January, Julia Budd returned with a vengeance to easily dispatch Jessy Miele by unanimous decision. “The Jewel” improved her record to 14-3 with the win, with her only losses coming to three of the greatest women’s MMA fighters of all time: Cyborg, Amanda Nunes, and Ronda Rousey. Budd made it clear that she is gunning for a rematch against Cyborg, insisting that it was only a few technical errors on her part that kept her from retaining her belt. Cyborg also implied that the rematch is a possible next move. Budd is the only opponent who has the size and skills to compete with Cyborg at featherweight in Bellator. The potential exception being “Alpha” Cat Zingano. Former UFC bantamweight title challenger Zingano will face Gabrielle Holloway in her Bellator debut at Bellator 245 on September 11.
Vadim Nemkov vs. Corey Anderson
Vadim Nemkov, yet another Team Fedor fighter, captured Bellator’s light heavyweight title by defeating previous champ-champ Ryan Bader by TKO in the second round. Like his teammate Moldavsky, Nemkov has also recovered from losses in Rizin to run roughshod through Bellator. En route to the title, he defeated a who’s who of contenders. In fact, four of his five Bellator opponents had been former champions. While the winner of the upcoming main event rematch between Phil Davis and Lyoto Machida could feature Nemkov’s first title challenger, the more likely candidate may be a Bellator newcomer.
Just last year, Corey Anderson was a top-five UFC contender and right in the thick of discussions for a title shot with the organization. A February loss to Jan Blachowicz put a damper on that. However, “Overtime” is still a bonafide top contender, especially as he moves to Bellator. Do not be surprised if you see Nemkov vs. Anderson announced in the near future.