Bellator 162 descended on FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee, Friday night, and the prime-time showcase represented the much-awaited return of former middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko to the promotion’s circuit after he served a length…
Bellator 162 descended on FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee, Friday night, and the prime-time showcase represented the much-awaited return of former middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko to the promotion’s circuit after he served a lengthy drug-related suspension.
Shlemenko was last in the ring for a Bellator fight in Feb. 2015 when he sent Melvin Manhoef tumbling to the canvas thanks to a spinning elbow, but the result of the contest was overturned and changed to a no-contest following a failed drug test.
This time around, Shlemenko met Kendall Grove—who entered with two straight knockout wins to his name—in the main event with a chance to redeem himself for last year’s missteps.
As it turns out, that’s exactly what he did.
The burly Russian established himself as the aggressor early in the first round, and he started unleashing trademark spins in the second round after Grove came on strong with some big shots late in the opening frame.
Once Shlemenko had Grove on the mat in the second round, he proceeded to unload punches until the referee was forced to step in and hand him the win.
Shlemenko is now the owner of 12 Bellator wins, which ranks as the second-most all-time behind Patricio “Pitbull” Freire.
Looking ahead, Shlemenko has made it clear he wants to keep competing—even if another title shot doesn’t present itself.
“I can just tell you one thing, I want to fight often,” he said, per ESPN.com’s Eric Tamiso. “I am ready to fight once every two months. It doesn’t matter for me if it’s going to be a title fight or not because I know that I am going to beat them all.”
- Alexander Shlemenko def. Kendall Grove via second-round TKO (1:43)
- Bobby Lashley def. Josh Appelt via second-round submission (rear-naked choke, 1:43)
Goiti Yamauchi def. Ryan Couture via first-round submission (armbar, 1:01)
Hisaki Kato def. AJ Matthews via first-round TKO (4:58)
- Rick Rainey def. Gilbert Smith via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Steve Garcia def. Ronnie Lawrence via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Julia Budd def. Arlene Blencowe via majority decision (29-29, 30-27, 29-27)
Virgil Zwicker def. Dan Charles via second-round TKO (4:31)
Chase Gormley def. Bobby Brents via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Kato KOs Matthews
The main card started with a compelling showdown between knockout artist Hisaki Kato and AJ Matthews, and the Japanese up-and-comer emerged with another quick victory thanks to an aggressive mindset that had Matthews wobbling midway through Round 1.
Although Matthews came out and stunned Kato over the first couple of minutes, Kato responded with a flurry of headshots and kicks to the body that had Matthews scrambling for answers.
But with Matthews dazed and Kato firing away, Kato was able to capture his second straight victory via first-round TKO.
As MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani noted, Kato has long embraced a boom-or-bust approach in the Octagon:
Kato‘s relentless style can cost him if he’s not careful, but his ability to provide early fireworks should continue to make him an entertaining draw.
Yamauchi Makes Light Work of Couture
Goiti Yamauchi has become renowned as a force capable of sending opposing fighters packing in a matter of minutes, and he lived up to that billing Friday night with a first-round submission win (armbar) over Ryan Couture.
According to Spike Sports, Yamauchi is piling up wins by submission at a ridiculous rate:
MMAFighting.com’s Danny Segura broke down just how easy things were for the victor:
Yamauchi lost his last fight before Bellator 162, when he was defeated by Bubba Jenkins via unanimous decision, but he’s proved capable of putting forth some of the promotion’s most impressive performances.
To wit: Dating back to his debut in Oct. 2010, Yamauchi has now dispatched 14 opponents in the first round.
Considering he won’t be 24 until January and he’s racking up wins at a stellar clip, Yamauchi‘s star should only continue to rise as 2017 approaches.
Lashley Takes Down Appelt
American Bobby Lashley continued his successful run and moved to 15-2 for his career with an eighth straight win Friday night thanks to a dominant performance versus Josh Appelt.
Appelt was severely overmatched throughout, as Lashley physically imposed his will and dominated the heavyweight showdown thanks to his superior athleticism and tactical approach, as MMA Latest noted:
By virtue of Friday’s win, Lashley has now won five straight fights via knockout, TKO or submission. His last fight to go to decision was a unanimous Nov. 2013 victory over Tony Melton.
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