Former middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko returned at Bellator 162 on Friday in Memphis, Tenn., following a year-and-a-half away from the promotion battling a suspension.
Shlemenko made the most of his Bellator comeback, getting the better of Kendall Grove in the night’s main event.
Despite giving up an eight-inch reach, Shlemenko did a good job nullifying Grove’s advantage, using leg kicks and a variety of spinning attacks to keep him from utilizing his jab. Shlemenko clipped Grove early in the round, sending him to the canvas, but didn’t follow him down. He instead made the Hawaiian return to his feet.
Grove got up, welcomed by Shlemenko’s standing guillotine. Grove escaped the hold, and a few moments later, he hurt Shlemenko during a brief flurry. Grove followed with a knee to the body, but couldn’t fully capitalize.
Shlemenko again turned the tables late in the round, hurting grove with a body kick and landing a spinning backfist.
Round two opened with Shlemenko going to the body with a couple hard kicks. Grove fired back with punches and a knee, but Shlemenko landed a spinning back kick to the body that put Grove on his heels. Shlemenko then stalked Grove and folded him over with a left hook to the body and right hook to the jaw. Grove crumpled to the canvas.
Shlemenko stood over Grove, dropping hammerfists and punches until the referee stepped in to stop the fight.
With Rafael Carvalho defending the middleweight title against Melvin Manhoef at Bellator 168 in December, Shlemenko is now likely in line for a fight with the winner.
Bobby Lashley kept his winning streak alive against Josh Appelt in the co-main event, thoroughly dominating the fight from the opening bell.
Lashley opened with a couple solid leg kicks and right hands, but quickly shifted to his bread and butter, clinching Appelt on the fence, wearing him down with several short punches and a knee to the sternum. Midway through the round, he took Appelt to the canvas with a double-leg takedown. From there, Lashley was all over his foe, landing punches, hammerfists and elbows at will, seemingly moments away from a stoppage.
Appelt survived the opening frame and attempted a quick start in the second round, landing a leg kick and left hand that got Lashley’s attention. That would be the end of his offensive efforts. Lashley clinched and took Appelt back to the mat. Lashley eventually gained full mount, but couldn’t finish the fight there. Appelt turned to his knees, trying to escape, but Lashley was glued to his back and sunk the rear-naked choke for a quick tapout.
Lashley (15-2) is now in the midst of an eight-fight winning streak, including all five of his Bellator bouts.
In the lead-up to Friday night, Ryan Couture told MMAWeekly.com that he wanted a ground battle with Goiti Yamauchi. He might be rethinking that now.
After exchanging some opening punches, Couture clinched and took Yamauchi to the canvas, landing in top position in Yamauchi’s half guard. The Japanese fighter made quick work of Couture off of his back, latching onto an arm for the armbar finish 1:01 into the first frame.
Hisaki Kato and AJ Matthews put on a barnburner of a fight to open the main card card, each man hurting the other in the opening minutes. Matthews, initially the busier fighter, had the fight going his way, but didn’t finish, allowing Kato to stage a comeback.
Matthews got caught with an eye poke late in the opening round, but checked out okay with the doctor and continued. As soon as they resumed fighting, Kato attacked with numerous kicks combined with left hooks to the head. He rocked Matthews, wobbled him and sent him to the mat, but somehow Matthews survived to the final seconds before Kato’s final onslaught of left hands dropped him to the canvas for the knockout.
Bellator 162: Shlemenko vs. Grove Results
- Alexander Shlemenko def. Kendall Grove by TKO (strikes) 1:43, R2
- Bobby Lashley def. Josh Appelt by Submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:43, R2
- Goiti Yamauchi def. Ryan Couture by Submission (armbar) at 1:01, R1
- Hisaki Kato def. A.J. Matthews by TKO (strikes) at 4:58, R1
- Chase Gormley def. Bobby Brents by Split Decision
- Virgil Zwicker def. Dan Charles by TKO at 4:31, R2
- Julia Budd def. Arlene Blencowe by Majority Decision
- Ricky Rainey def. Gilbert Smith by Unanimous Decision
- Steve Garcia def. Ronnie Lawrence by Unanimous Decision