Few middleweights outside of the UFC are as hot as Alexander Shlemenko these days. Entering last night’s Bellator 54 lineup, the 27-year old Russian had won four fights in a row and eleven of his last twelve with the only exception involving a decision defeat to explosive 185-pound champion Hector Lombard.
By evening’s end Shlemenko had picked consecutive victory #5 and, as a result, also advanced to the final of a Bellator tournament for the second time in his career.
Shlemenko and opponent Brian Rogers slugged it out from the start with Rogers nearly ending things early after a well-placed strike put “The Storm” on his backside. However, Shlemenko got back to business shortly thereafter, landing a few powerful punches of his own and ultimately putting Rogers away with a series of knees midway through the fight’s second stanza.
Facing Shlemenko in the final will be Vitor Vianna, a well-rounded Brazilian who trains alongside Wanderlei Silva in Las Vegas. The 12-1-1 Vianna, whose only loss was the result of an injury-based stoppage, dropped the heavily favored Bryan Baker in the opening minute of their co-headlining clash and put him away with a number of follow-up strikes.
The two middleweights will take to the cage against each other in November with a $100,000 paycheck and title-fight against Lombard on the line.
Here is a complete rundown of Bellator 54 results:
Andria Caplan def. Adrienne Seiber via Unanimous Decision
Claudio Ledesma def. Brian Kelleher via Unanimous Decision
Joey Kirwan def. Lewis Rumsey via Submission Round 1 (Guillotine Choke)
Tim Carpenter def. Ryan Contaldi via Knockout Round 1 (Strikes)
Duane Bastress def. Daniel Gracie via TKO Round 2 (TKO – Cut Stoppage)
Jacob Kirwan def. Rene Nazare via Unanimous Decision
Zach Makovsky def. Ryan Roberts via Submission Round 1 (North-South Choke)
Vitor Vianna def. Bryan Baker via TKO Round 1 (Strikes)
Alexander Shlemenko def. Brian Rogers via TKO Round 2 (Strikes)
PHOTO CREDIT – BELLATOR