A broken hand has forced Doug Marshall (18-6 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) out of a planned bid for Bellator MMA’s middleweight title, and Brett Cooper (19-8 MMA, 6-3 BMMA) has stepped in to take his place and now faces champ Alexander Shlemenko (47-7 MMA, 8-1 BMMA).
Bellator officials today announced the change.
“My goal has always been the same: get the belt,” Cooper stated in an official release. “I’m always making improvements, and this is an incredible opportunity I’m not going to pass up.”
The new fight now serves as the main event of next month’s Bellator 98 event, which takes place Sept. 7 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.
The night’s special three-hour main card airs on Spike TV following prelims that stream on Spike.com.
Cooper and Marshall met in April in Bellator’s Season 8 middleweight tournament final. Marshall earned the win with a first-round knockout. However, with him unable to compete next month, Cooper earned the call and now rematches Shlemenko, who defeated him in May 2011 at Bellator 44.
“When we fought in 2011, it was an absolute war, and I’ve grown into a much different fighter over the last few years,” Cooper stated. “I’m 26 years old, and this is my time to take the next step.”
Cooper was already expected to fight on the card, where he was going to meet Andreas Spang in a Season 9 tournament matchup. Undefeated prospect Justin Torrey (7-0 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) now takes that slot.
In another change to the tournament’s lineup, Jeremy Kimball replaces Dan Cramer and now meets Perry Filkins at Bellator 98.
Additionally, Bellator officials announced a seven-fight preliminary card for the event, including lightweights Derek Anderson (9-0 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) vs. Patricky “Pitbull” Freire (10-4 MMA, 3-3 BMMA), light heavyweights Mike “Crazy” Mucitelli (5-0 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) vs. Jeff “Scary Nickname” Nader (5-5 MMA, 1-1 BMMA), middleweights Brennan “The Irish Bad Boy” Ward (6-1 MMA, 2-1 BMMA) vs. Dave “The A-Town Ogre” Vitkay (12-12-1 MMA, 1-0 BMMA), lightweights Andrew Calandrelli (6-3 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) vs. Ryan Quinn (7-4-1 MMA, 4-0 BFC), featherweights Matt “The Mangler” Bessette (11-4 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) vs. Nick Piedmont (8-3-1 MMA, 2-1 BMMA), Glenn Allaire (3-1 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) vs. Rico DiSciullo (0-0 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) and heavyweights Josh Diekmann (12-5 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) vs. Parker Porter (5-3 MMA, 0-0 BMMA).
With the additions, the full Bellator 98 lineup now includes:
- Alexander Shlemenko vs. Brett Cooper – for middleweight title
- Joe Warren vs. Nick Kirk – bantamweight tournament opening round
- Andreas Spang vs. Justin Torrey – Season 9 middleweight tournament opening round
- Perry Filkins vs. Jeremy Kimball – Season 9 middleweight tournament opening round
- Mikkel Parlo vs. Brian Rogers – Season 9 middleweight tournament opening round
- Jason Butcher vs. Giva Santana – Season 9 middleweight tournament opening round
For more on Bellator 98, stay tuned to the MMA Rumors section of the site.
(Pictured: Brett Cooper)