Andrey Koreshkov expects an entertaining fight with Douglas Lima. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
If Andrey Koreshkov’s aggressive knockout-friendly style seems in any way reminiscent of Alexander Shlemenko, it’s because the ex-middleweight champion might very well be his greatest influence in MMA.
“All those stoppages and all those victories that I had, it’s more just my merits and the merits of my coach, Alexander Shlemenko,” said Koreshkov, who owns 10 triumphs via KO or TKO, including nine inside of a round. “Obviously he trains me and he teaches me things he knows that I utilize in my fights.”
In fact, Koreshkov attributes much of his highlight reel to timely cageside instruction.
“During my fights I always listen to my corner, and I always hear my corner,” the Rusfighters Sport Club representative said. “Most of the time when I finish my opponent with a knockout, I hear my coach telling me to do certain things and I just do them. It works out perfectly, and I am able to finish my opponent listening to my corner’s command.”
While Shlemenko will be in Koreshkov’s corner when the Russian challengers Douglas Lima for the welterweight title at Bellator 140 on Friday, “Storm” won’t be patrolling the inside of the cage as a participant anytime soon. Shlemenko was suspended for three years by the California State Athletic Commission last month after failing a drug test in relation to his Bellator 133 triumph over Melvin Manhoef. The 31-year-old Russian had an elevated testosterone to epitestosterone ratio of 50:1 and also tested positive for the anabolic steroid oxandrolone after his Feb. 13 knockout of Manhoef.
Koreshkov disputes the CSAC’s findings, claiming that Shlemenko never took any banned substances.
“I was very upset and pissed about it because I know that Alexander is innocent, that he didn’t take any banned substances,” Koreshkov said. “That’s why I look forward to this incident getting clarified. Of course it was very unpleasant, I was upset and shocked.”
Now, the burden falls upon Koreshkov to claim a title for his team. The 24-year-old came up short in his first championship bout, as he was soundly beaten by Ben Askren at Bellator 97 -- the first loss of his professional career. Of course, Lima is a different type of opponent than Askren, who ran roughshod over Bellator’s welterweight division on the strength of his wrestling. Like Koreshkov, Lima prefers to keep his fights standing.
“This fight will be completely different because I became much stronger since then. I gained a lot of experience. I became mentally stronger and tougher,” Koreshkov said. “And besides that, Douglas Lima is more comfortable opponent for me than Askren because Lima is more of a striker. So we will be playing on my field.”
With a combined 22 knockouts between them, Lima-Koreshkov is the type of matchup that forecasts action. When Koreshkov was getting throttled by Askren two years go, the fight drew boos from those in attendance, in part because of the style and in part because Askren embraced the heel role. Koreshkov expects a much different reaction Friday night.
“I think it’s going to be a very exciting fight for the fans because it will be for the most part standing up. It will be very great and exciting, yet technical. I think all the fans will enjoy it.”