Alexander Shlemenko teed off on Maiquel Falcao. | Keith
Shlemenko finally got his belt.
The RusFighters Sport Club leader and Season 5 tournament winner
dispatched Season 6 victor
Maiquel Jose Falcao Goncalves with a beautiful series of
strikes to capture the vacant middleweight championship in the main
“I am champion in Bellator, and I am [the] face of Bellator now,”
Shlemenko said in his post-fight interview at the The Arena at
Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Ga. “Whoever wants this belt, come on in
this cage. I will beat you.”
Though Falcao looked sharp in the first five minutes of Thursday
night’s headliner on Spike TV, Shlemenko weathered the Brazilian’s
early aggression and went to work in the second stanza, grabbing a
Thai plum and punishing “Big Rig” with knees to the ribs before
ripping him with a nasty left hook to the liver.
Uneasy from the body blows, Falcao slowly dropped to his back,
where the Russian blasted him with a jackhammer straight to the
guts that elicited a grimace from the onetime UFC talent. With
Falcao’s guard lowered to protect his stomach, Shlemenko let loose
with two haymaker shots to the Brazilian’s skull, knocking him
stiff 2:18 into the second round.
“It was a liver shot first,” Shlemenko said of the final sequence.
“Then it was [alternating] between liver shots and head shots that
Former Sengoku champion Marlon
Sandro advanced to his third featherweight tournament semifinal
by taking a controversial majority decision over Akop
Stepanyan in the evening’s co-main event.
Though Stepanyan appeared to be the more relaxed of the two in the
opening frame, the Russian was warned by referee George
Allen for grabbing the cage in a sequence that prevented a
Sandro takedown. The Brazilian finally scored a trip to end the
frame, however, slamming Stepanyan to the canvas.
Stepanyan then picked up where he left off in the second period,
staggering Sandro with a spinning-heel kick and then briefly
dropping the Brazilian with a sharp right hand. After eating
another straight right and a spinning-back kick, Sandro tried for a
takedown but was reversed. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt
dropped for a heel hook attempt to end the frame, only to see
Stepanyan grab the cage as his defense -- a decision that forced
Allen to take a point from the Russian.
Round three clearly belonged to Sandro, as the Nova Uniao standout
scored with a pair of takedowns that kept Stepanyan grounded for
the majority of the final five minutes. When the smoke cleared, two
judges scored the fight 29-27 for Sandro, while the lone dissenting
observer ruled the fight a 28-28 draw.
Richman returned to his winning ways on Thursday night,
brutally stopping Mitch
Jackson to move on in the Season 8 featherweight
Perhaps learning from the over-aggressive approach that cost him
against Shabulat Shamhalaev in Season 7, “The Marine” took his time
with Jackson, peppering the 22-fight pro with sharp jabs and
crosses that staggered his prey several times. With time winding
down in the opening frame, the Minnesotan unleashed a whipping head
kick that connected perfectly with his opponent’s temple.
“I was setting it up with my nice hands in the first round and
wearing him out,” Richman stated in his post-fight interview. “That
was my game plan, was to stuff a bunch of his takedowns and tire
him out. Then I saw the head kick opportunity.”
As Jackson withered, Richman pounced, laying into his man with a
wicked volley of hammer fists that eventually turned out Jackson’s
lights with just three seconds remaining in the opening period.
“I just want to show everybody that if you get too close to me,
I’ll put you to sleep,” said Richman. “I think I’ll make exciting
fights against anybody.”
Bezerra wasted no time in punching his ticket to the Season 8
featherweight semifinals, submitting Genair da
Silva with a first-round armbar. The 25-year-old went to work
early in the fight, dropping his fellow Brazilian with a stiff jab
before climbing on his back in search of a rear-naked choke. Though
“Junior PQD” would soon shuck Bezerra off his back and pound away
from top position, “Popo” remained composed and calmly secured a
straight arm lock from guard. Da Silva gamely tried to roll away
from the pressure, but he could not complete his somersault and was
forced to tap out at 1:40 of the opening stanza.
Khasbulaev Taps Guerreiro, Harvison KO’s Rodrigues
In the evening’s first featherweight tournament quarterfinal,
Khasbulaev worked over
Fabricio de Assis Costa da Silva with ground-and-pound in round
one before submitting his opponent with a second-round arm-triangle
choke at the 1:15 mark; Joe Elmore
fought through adversity in his 159-pound catchweight bout with
Burke, escaping from under Burke’s mount to turn out the lights
of his lanky foe with a violent left hook at 4:11 in round two; in
a 152-pound catchweight contest, Ronnie
Rogers took a unanimous decision from Shane
Crenshaw after 15 lackluster minutes, earning scores of 29-28
across the board; UFC veteran Clay
Harvison halted a three-fight skid in his 160-pound
confrontation with Ururahy
Rodrigues, as he drilled his former training partner with a
perfectly-timed knee and finished the job with punches at 3:34 in
the third frame; in the evening’s opening contest, George
Hickman earned a measure of revenge in his rematch with
Upchurch, submitting the Georgian with a first-round rear-naked
choke in just 2:19.