Former middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko begins his quest to try and eventually reclaim the title when he makes his promotional comeback against Kendall Grove at Bellator 162 in Memphis, Tennessee.
The main event clash at FedEx Forum will mark Shlemenko’s first appearance with Bellator since failing a post-fight drug test because of elevated testosterone levels after a spectacular knockout victory over Melvin Manhoef. That result from Bellator 133 was eventually overturned to a no-contest. “Storm” would see his original three-year suspension from the California State Athletic Commission substantially reduced after an appeal.
Shlemenko is an extremely dangerous striker noted for his creative and unorthodox offensive attack that includes numerous spinning techniques. He’s produced 38 finishes in 53 victories with 29 of those triumphs coming by way of knockout.
With Shlemenko looking to make the most of this latest opportunity against Grove to re-establish himself as one of the top 185-pound competitors in the promotion, we take a look at his five most destructive Bellator performances.
5. Alexander Shlemenko vs. Doug Marshall
Event: Bellator 109
Date: Nov. 22, 2013
Location: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Result: Shlemenko def. Marshall via TKO
As expected this title clash involving two proven finishers provided plenty of fireworks at Bellator 109. Shlemenko surprised the hard-charging challenger by mixing in a pair of impressive takedowns. The champion concentrated primarily on a debilitating body attack that included punches and knee strikes while Marshall relied upon his powerful right hand. Shlemenko actually turned the tide for good after “The Rhino” had enjoyed his best moment of the bout in landing a solid combination of punches. The champion would respond with a brutal left hand to the liver that would send Marshall tumbling to the canvas in agony. Shlmenko recorded a successful title defense at the 4:28 mark of the first round and the sudden conclusion was a prime exhibit of his impressive finishing abilities.
4. Alexander Shlemenko vs. Bryan Baker
Event: Bellator 23
Date: June 24, 2010
Location: Louisville, Kentucky
Result: Shlemenko def. Baker via TKO
This matchup proved to be an entertaining middleweight tournament final as the talented grappler Baker was more than willing to oblige Shlemenko in a pure stand-up battle. That decision would eventually prove to be his undoing. There were some solid early exchanges with Shlemenko showcasing his offensive flare with several spinning striking techniques. Both competitors had their moments in the contest before Shlemenko would land a solid right hand and a crippling knee to the body that would send Baker to the mat. Shlemenko would seize upon his advantage by doling out a fierce barrage of punches on his dazed opponent until the proceedings were finally halted at the 2:45 mark of the opening frame.
The victory would earn Shlemenko a title shot against Hector Lombard at Bellator 34 but he would fall short in dropping a unanimous decision.
3. Alexander Shlemenko vs. Brian Rogers
Event: Bellator 54
Date: Oct. 15, 2011
Location: Atlantic City, New Jersey
Result: Shlemenko def. Rogers via TKO
This highly entertaining affair was a semi-final bout as part of Bellator’s middleweight tournament in 2011. Both heavy-handed competitors had their moments during a spirited opening frame but it was Rogers who enjoyed the early advantage. He landed several effective punches including a right hand that briefly dropped Shlemenko to the canvas. The Russian veteran was able to dig deep to survive his opponent’s attack and displayed why he’s only been stopped once via strikes in 63 professional fights.
After more back-and-forth early in the second, the complexion of the contest would start to turn in Shlemenko’s favor as he would land a huge combination that featured knees to the body and head. Rogers started to wilt under the intense, blistering barrage of strikes and was finally felled by a brutal knee to the temple. The end to what was an enjoyable firefight between two aggressive strikers came at the 2:30 mark. It was a tremendously methodical and brutal finish from Shlemenko.
2. Alexander Shlemenko vs. Maiquel Falcao
Event: Bellator 88
Date: Feb. 7, 2013
Location: Duluth, Georgia
Result: Shlemenko def. Falcao via KO
This matchup was for the vacant Bellator middleweight title and Shlemenko would make an impressive statement against the dangerous Brazilian. Shlemenko landed an early body kick while Falcao came out aggressively and was able to secure an early takedown and attempted to take Shlemenko’s back. The Russian responded with an adept trip takedown of his own. While there were some solid exchanges there was also plenty of clinch work during an opening stanza that was rather pedestrian by Shlemenko standards.
Shlemenko would raise the bar in the second round and would close the show in grand style. “Storm” would start to concentrate his attack on Falcao’s body with brutal knees and punches. He would land effective combinations with a fading Falcao pinned against the cage. Shlemenko would hurt Falcao with a spinning back-kick to the body and would drop him to the mat with a follow-up right hand. Shlemenko would display his formidable killer instinct by unleashing a devastating volley of standing strikes to his opponent’s body and head until Falcao was knocked out cold at the 2:18 mark. Shlemenko had finally claimed Bellator gold with a clinical and punishing performance.
1. Alexander Shlemenko vs. Melvin Manhoef
Event: Bellator 133
Date: Feb. 13, 2015
Location: Fresno, California
Result: No-Contest (Original Shlemenko KO victory overturned)
Shlemenko came out aggressively against the dangerous Dutch striker and put his entire arsenal of spinning techniques on full display. Manhoef was surprisingly tentative in the striking department but did exhibit an excellent takedown defense. Shlemenko was happy to engage in clinch work against the cage which allowed him to land several effective knees to the body while at the same nullifying Manhoef’s dangerous punches. “No Mercy” did have one bright moment in the opening round when he landed a strong right hand that definitely got Shlemenko’s attention.
The second round saw Shlemenko once again rely upon his spinning attacks and look to wear down Manhoef by making him ward off his constant takedown attempts. Manhoef landed a solid leg kick before being obliterated by a spinning back-fist to the head. Manhoef wobbled and fell to the canvas. Shlemenko would add a couple of more punches before referee John McCarthy intervened at the 1:25 mark. While the victory was tarnished by Shlemenko’s failed post-fight drug test, it was still one of the most impressive knockouts of 2015 and a prime example of his tremendous explosiveness.