Social media can often be a powerful tool. Getting your message out to the world has never been easier, and MMA icon Tito Ortiz found that out first hand when Bellator Middleweight Champion Alexander Shlemenko posted a short video online challenging Ortiz to a fight at light heavyweight on the Bellator Pay-Per-View on Saturday, May 17th. Shlemenko signed his bout agreement the day he called out Ortiz. After 8 days, Ortiz’s bout agreement is now in and the fight that started as a challenge has now become a reality.
Ortiz and Shlemenko will now join a card headlined by a Bellator Lightweight Title fight between Eddie Alvarez and Michael Chandler, as well as a Bellator Light Heavyweight Tournament Final between Rampage Jackson and King Mo from The Landers Center, located just outside of Memphis.
The reigning Bellator Middleweight Champion wasted no time in his call out of Ortiz, after the Russian striker collected his 50th victory in March with a win over Brennan Ward. Currently riding a 13 fight win streak including finishes over Doug Marshall, Ikuhisa Minowa and Maiquel Falcao, Shlemenko has his sights set on a new challenge in the form of Ortiz.
“Tito Ortiz says he is healthy and he wants to fight. So now he has a fight. Me,” Shlemenko said. “I will fight Tito, and I will beat him. I have a great respect for Tito Ortiz, but I have wanted to fight Tito for a long time, and this is my chance. I am moving up to light heavyweight for this fight, and I will win. When I am done with Tito, I will continue to defend my middleweight belt in Bellator.”
As one of the most recognizable faces in MMA, Ortiz enters the fight making his Bellator debut and will be welcomed to the cage by the man they call “Storm”. Ortiz’s storied career includes victories over some of the sport’s most notable names and Ortiz will look to start his Bellator career off with a victory on May 17th.
“This fight really came out of nowhere and it took me by surprise, but it took me about three seconds to accept the fight,” Ortiz said. “I’m healthy, I feel great, and I’m ready to do this. I knew I wasn’t going to get any easy fights in Bellator, it’s never what I wanted, and they delivered with a great fight for May 17th. Shlemenko is a tough guy, he’s the Middleweight Champion, but he’s fighting at my weight class, the weight class where I have beaten some of the best in the world, and it’s going to be a very bad night for him.”
“Shlemenko’s one of MMA’s greatest champions, he’s riding a 13 fight win streak and he’s got an incredible level of confidence he can beat anyone in the world. When I saw the immediate fan response following the callout, I knew this was a fight I wanted to make provided we received commission approval,” Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney said. “Of the thousands of opinions that came out when this was announced, half think Alexander destroys him and half think Tito does the same. This will be a great fight.”