Bellator returns to Arizona for the second time in just over four months to host Bellator 273 at the Footprints Center in Phoenix.
In the headliner, former double champ and current heavyweight champ Ryan Bader (28-7) and interim heavyweight champ Valentin Moldavsky (11-1) square off to unify the Bellator heavyweight title. Bader is a tenured MMA veteran with a resume many can not compete with. The 38-year-old is an extremely high-level wrestler who packs a heavy punch, to say the least. In his last bout, he was knocked out of the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix by Corey Anderson at Bellator 268. The Arizona resident and TUF 8 winner defends his heavyweight strap for the second time at Bellator 273. It is no secret Bader has the skill set to win this fight, it’s a matter of if he can weather the storm of Valentin Moldavsky.
Russia’s Moldavsky is set for his biggest fight yet as he steps up to fight one of the better heavyweights in Bellator history. The quality Combat Sambo style the 29-year-old brings has caused problems for just about every opponent he has faced. Moldavsky’s resume speaks for itself as he has scored wins over Tim Johnson, Roy Nelson, Linton Vassell, and Karl Albrektsson. The quality grappling of both guys makes this a great fight, however, the clash of grappling styles makes it even more intriguing. It will be interesting to see how this plays out if it gets to the later rounds. There is nothing like a matchup between two high-level heavyweights to cap off a stacked night of fights.
In tonight’s co-main event, MMA legend and former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson (28-11) squares off with PFL veteran Islam Mamedov (20-1-1). Arizona’s Henderson looks to get back on track after a tough three-fight skid. The 38-year-old has competed at the highest stages of MMA for nearly 13 years now and still seems to be as competitive as ever. The MMA Lab’s Henderson has wins over Jorge Masvidal, Patricio Pitbull, and Nate Diaz in his tenured career. In his 12th walk to the Bellator cage, he will seek his first win since 2019 against a tough Mamedov.
Dagestan’s Mamedov represents that well-known Dagestanian style of grappling perfectly. In his last bout, he took a close decision victory home over Brent Primus at Bellator 263. Although this is just his second Bellator appearance, he has extremely high-level experience in nine bouts with WSOF and PFL. Mamedov holds a win over Natan Schulte and drew with Loik Radzhabov. The 32-year-old has won 19 straight and has not lost since his second pro bout in 2009. Overall, this is a great test for Mamedov and a chance to put himself into the top five of the lightweight division.
Some intriguing scraps on the card include Sabah Homasi (15-10) vs. Jaleel Willis (15-3), former bantamweight champion Darion Caldwell (14-5) vs. UFC veteran Enrique Barzola (16-5-2), and Henry Corrales (19-6) vs. Aiden Lee (10-5).
Other notable names featured at Bellator 273 are Saad Awad (24-13), Dalton Rosta (5-0), Nikita Mikhailov (8-1), and Ben Parrish (5-1).
Bellator 273 Results
(C) Ryan Bader (29-7) def. (IC) Valentin Moldavsky (11-2) via Unanimous Decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47)– to retain the undisputed Bellator heavyweight championship
Benson Henderson (29-11) def. Islam Mamedov (20-2-1) via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Henry Corrales (20-6) def. Aiden Lee (10-6) via Unanimous Technical Decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Sabah Homasi (16-10) def. Jaleel Willis (15-4) via Submission (Arm-Triangle choke) at 1:42 of Round 1.
Enrique Barzola def. Darrion Caldwell via TKO (Ground and Pound) at 3:01 of Round 3.
Chris Gonzalez (7-1) def. Saad Awad (24-14) via TKO at :36 of Round 1.
Dalton Rosta (6-0) def. Duane Johnson (6-3) via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Nikita Mikhailov (9-1) def. Blaine Shutt (8-6) via TKO at 3:23 of Round 3.
Lucas Brennan (6-0) def. Ben Lugo (5-5) via Submission (Arm-Triangle choke) at 2:27 of Round 1.
Sullivan Cauley (3-0) def. Ben Parrish (5-2) via TKO at 4:35 of Round 1.