Since joining Bellator in 2010, few fighters have been as dominant as middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko.
11 wins in 12 fights for the promotion have added to an impressive 50-7 overall record and established Shlemenko as one of not only Bellator’s top fighters, but also one of the best at 185 pounds.
No further evidence of his status than his most recent second-round submission victory over Brennan Ward at Bellator 114 this past March.
“I felt really well during this fight,” said Shlemenko looking back on his win over Ward. “I was controlling the whole fight and I did exactly all the things I had to do to control the fight and win.
“I was absolutely confident that I was going to be able to finish him in the second round.”
Shlemenko’s win over Ward exemplifies his strategy going into every fight.
“I always set the goal for myself to control and dominate in every fight because I want to finish all of my opponents,” Shlemenko told MMAWeekly.com. “I do not want to go to the judges’ decisions. I’m always trying to win and finish them all.”
Having dispatched his latest title challenger, Shlemenko heads into Saturday’s Bellator 120 pay-per-view in a feature bout against former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz (16-11-1).
“It is a great honor for me to fight Tito,” said Shlemenko. “Back in the day before I was even considering becoming a pro fighter, I was watching him fight. He was one of my favorite fighters and I really enjoyed watching him fight.
“Now is a good chance to test myself against him and to see how good I am compared to him.”
As for how they match up technically, Shlemenko feels as long as he can keep the fight on his feet, he should come out victorious.
“I think a key to success in this fight is my endurance and my conditioning,” he said. “Of course, I have to watch (Ortiz’s) wrestling and stay away from it and keep a high base in this fight.
“I think I am better than him standing up and if I’m able to stay in a high base and keep up my stamina in this fight, I think that will be the key to winning this fight.”
Having accomplished so much and proven himself one of the best fighters around, Shlemenko still has a simple goal for himself: be recognized as one of the absolute best.
“My goal is to become the number one ranked fighter in the middleweight division and the best fighter in the world,” he said.
“I want to thank everyone who supports me and who will be rooting for me.”
(Photo courtesy of Bellator MMA)