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Alexander Shlemenko to appeal Bellator 185 loss to Gegard Mousasi, manager says


Former Bellator middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko plans to contest his unanimous-decision loss to Gegard Mousasi in the headliner of this past Friday’s Bellator 185.

Shlemenko’s (56-10 MMA, 12-4 BMMA) manager, Alexey Zhernakov, today told MMAjunkie he believes judges scored the fight incorrectly and wants the outcome reversed, whether the bout is re-scored or declared a no-contest. He also welcomed a rematch with Mousasi (43-6-2 MMA, 1-0 BMMA).

“In our opinion, this fight is a career-turning point,” Zhernakov said. “We think he did good enough in this fight to get a win and with a fighter who’s ranked No. 4 in the world. He was a UFC contender. (A win) would mean a lot in developing Shlemenko’s career, so this fight is important – very important to him.”

Mousasi’s manager, Nima Safapour, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mousasi earned unanimous scores of 29-28 in the Spike-televised fight at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. The former Strikeforce champ and top UFC middleweight contender frequently took down Shlemenko and threatened chokes from back control despite a broken orbital bone to his left eye. The decision was widely booed by the crowd.

Zhernakov’s request for a reversal might not be feasible. According to Mike Mazzulli, who heads the Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulations that regulated Bellator 185, there is no formal process in place to appeal controversial decisions.

“I stand behind my officials 100 percent, and there is nothing in my rules or regulations that would require or allow the decision to be appealed,” Mazzulli said.

The bout was scored by veteran judges Doug Crosby, Derek Cleary and John English. Crosby is no stranger to controversy as an MMA judge, drawing an accusation of conflict of interest for scoring a fight involving a camp with whom he’d shared a long-standing feud. He was also widely maligned for his scorecard for Frankie Edgar in Edgar’s first title bout against B.J. Penn at UFC 112.

Zhernakov took no issue with the scoring in the first round, noting Mousasi nearly finished Shlemenko with a choke. But he argued that Shlemenko did more damage in the later rounds, negating Mousasi’s control on the ground with punches and kicks.

“Round No. 3, he won with probably a 10-8, because it was judged by the recent changes in the rules,” Zhernakov said. “But Round No. 2 is what we’re talking about. According to statistics, he won the second round, because for three-and-a-half minutes, he was dominating. And by dominating, he was landing significant shots. The damage was on his side.”

The manager said he would speak today to Mazzulli about the next steps to take. He plans to speak to Bellator to voice his concerns about the bout and his plan of action.

In a text message to MMAjunkie, Bellator President Scott Coker scored the first round for Mousasi and the third for Shlemenko. He declined to outline the promotion’s plan in the wake of Mousasi’s win, though the bout was widely characterized as a title eliminator for the winner of an upcoming title fight between champ Rafael Carvalho and Alessio Sakara at Bellator 190.

“We have to wait and see what happens in December and how long Gegard is out for,” Coker wrote. “We’ll know more in a week.”

Mousasi’s win extended his current winning streak to six and certified a successful transition to Bellator after riding out his UFC contract. Prior to the fight, he planned to face champ Carvalho and then pursue a belt at light heavyweight, where his weight cut was more manageable.

For complete coverage of Bellator 185, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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