Since Fedor Emelianenko retired, Russia has been looking for another name to represent the country in MMA. That person to step-up might be the new Bellator middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko.
“It’s very exciting,” said Shlemenko through a translator to Sherdog. “I’m from a small town in Russia and this is exciting. I’m proud and honored to hold this position.”
Of Shlemenko’s 45 fights, he has finished 75% of those by TKO or submission. He knocked out Maiquel Falcão in the second round at last week’s Bellator 88 to win the vacant title.
Shlemenko earned his title shot in 2011, but had to wait longer than expected when then champion Hector Lombard left for the UFC. Falcão won the Season 6 tournament to setup the match.
Next Thursday, at Bellator 89, Season 8 of the middleweight tournament begins with the winner getting the first crack at Shlemenko’s newest addition.