Vitor Vianna will enter Bellator 57 on a five-fight winning
streak. | Photo: Keith Mills
In a standup confrontation, Russian middleweight Alexander
Shlemenko is a whirling dervish of creativity, capable of
unleashing a spinning back fist or exotic kick at a moment’s
His striking aptitude has paid dividends, as the RusFighters Sport
Club representative has earned 26 of his 42 career victories by
knockout or technical knockout, including a second-round TKO of
Rogers in the
Bellator Fighting Championships Season 5 middleweight
tournament semifinals at Bellator 54 on Oct. 15.
Vianna, his opponent in the 185-pound final at
Bellator 57 on Saturday in Rama, Ontario, Canada, is well aware
of the dangers Shlemenko presents on the feet. That does not mean
he is afraid to engage the Russian there, however.
“I can knock out anyone, and Alexander Shlemenko is no exception,”
Vianna said. “All I need to do is punch him on the button, and he’s
The winner of their encounter receives $100,000, as well as a title
shot against current Bellator middleweight king Hector
A Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Rodrigo
Medeiros, Vianna is noted for his ground skills, but three of
his victories in a current five-fight winning streak have come via
TKO. That includes a 54-second finish of Bryan Baker
in their half of the middleweight bracket at Bellator 54. In that
bout, the Brazilian dropped Rogers with an overhand right before
finishing him with a barrage of hammer fists on the canvas.
As the bout began, Vianna felt that Baker was a little too
nonchalant for his liking.
“I saw in his eyes before the fight; he didn’t give me the respect
that I deserved, and it motivated me a lot,” he said.
Vianna felt extremely comfortable trading with Baker, whom many had
tabbed as the tournament favorite following his TKO victory over
Hess at Bellator 50.
“My plan against Bryan Baker was exactly what I did -- keep the
fight [standing] up and punch him very hard with small
combinations,” Vianna said. “I trained that combination for him
[for] about three weeks after my classes. He is good on the ground
but has a lot of holes in his standup.”
Wand Fight Team product is confident he can trade strikes with
Shlemenko, Vianna also realizes that his best opportunity for
success could lie with his submission skills.
“I know Shlemenko is very capable on the ground, but I definitely
feel like I can submit him. Whatever it takes; I’m here to be a
champion,” he said.
Once considered one of the sport’s top unsigned talents coming out
of Brazil, Vianna is quickly becoming an established commodity
within Bellator’s middleweight ranks. A couple more victories will
complete the transition.
“I want to show the world that I’m one of the best fighters on the
planet,” Vianna said. “I can fight standup and on the ground. It
doesn’t matter where the fight ends up -- I’m always ready to