Russia’s Alexander ‘Storm’ Shlemenko was on a nine-fight win streak, before facing Maiquel Falcão for the vacant Bellator middleweight belt. He won that, and then defended the belt successfully three times.
Then Shlemenko, who doesn’t cut to make 185, jumped to 205 for a fight with Tito Ortiz, and got tapped out in under two and a half minutes. Next fight he lost his belt to Brandon Halsey in just 35 seconds.
His next fight in Bellator was a win over Melvin Manhoef, but that was changed to an NC when he tested positive for the PED oxandrolone and had a testosterone-to-epitestosterone level of 50:1.
A normal ratio of T to E is 1:1, and day to day variation can range from perhaps .7:1 to 1.3:1. The World Anti-Doping Agency allows up to 4:1. 50:1 is nearly unheard of. Never the less, the fighter strenuously declared his innocence.
In addition the the NC, Shlemenko was also suspended for three years and fined $10,000. He challenged the suspension in court, and in the meantime fought Vyacheslav Vasilevsky in M-1 Global, twice, winning the first via split decision and the rematch via submission. In July the courts lifted his suspension and halved the fine, leaving him free to fight in North America again.
Friday night he faces 6′ 6″ Kendall Grove at Bellator 162. During a recent interview on MMAjunkie Radio, Shlemenko talked a
“I’m back and I’m ready to put on a show in this fight,” said Shlemenko, as transcribed by Matt Ericksonfor MMAjunkie. “In the U.S., Bellator is like my home. I’ve had more fights in Bellator. I’ve had more good, spectacular fights here.”
“This time, I didn’t get a chance to bring 6-foot-7 guys to my training camp. However, I know really well how to fight against such tall opponents. If you watch Friday, I’ll show you exactly how to do it.
“[Alexander Volkov and I] don’t train together right now, but I used to train and spart with him a lot, so I have quite a bit of experience with a guy who has a big height advantage.”
“To make it clear, we tried to bring guys who would mimic Kendall Grove. But it’s difficult to find someone in this weight division who is as tall as him. Some of the tall guys are southpaws, but they don’t mimic him because [Grove] is not a southpaw. Some of the guys were tall, but they’re heavyweights, and they move differently than a guy who is many pounds lighter.”
‘Storm’ also said he would be willing to give welterweight a try.
“I like the idea, so I think it would be good to fight in both middleweight and welterweight,” he said. “But I haven’t put too much thought into it yet.”
“Psychologically, it was a very difficult moment for me,” said Shlemenko. “So now I have to overcome it and I have to come back and I have to prove once and for all for everyone who’s ever doubted me and I have to take back everything that was taken from me, everything that was mine.”
“The most difficult part for me was that I was suspended, I was punished for something that I’ve never done. Something I didn’t do.”
“Right now, my No. 1 priority is to have a very exciting comeback. I want to remind everyone about myself. I want to remind everyone what type of fighter I am.
“After that, of course. I want my belt back.”
Bellator’s current Bellator middleweight champion is Rafael Carvalho, who won the belt via body kicking Halsey and defended then defended it vs. Manhoef via controversial split decision.
“I can beat him,” Shlemenko said of Carvalho. “Stylistically, he’s very comfortable for me, because he’s a striker. I’m a better striker than he is. Also, when he fought Melvin Manhoef, I think it was a terrible decision. Manhoef was supposed to win the fight and Manhoef was supposed to be the champion. It was up to the judges, so [Carvalho is] the champ.”