Alexander Shlemenko will find himself in a title fight upon his return to Bellator Fighting Championships, though perhaps not the one he anticipated.
Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney announced Wednesday on Twitter that Shlemenko will square off with the winner of the ongoing Season 6 middleweight tournament to decide a new champion. The announcement comes on the heels of the news that Bellator’s inaugural middleweight titlist, Hector Lombard, is headed for the UFC.
Shlemenko is a two-time Bellator tournament victor, most recently conquering the Season 5 field last year. Just days after his first-round knockout of Ikuhisa Minowa at Super Fight League 2 in India, the hard-hitting Russian was involved in a car accident in his homeland, suffering a broken collarbone and dislocated thumb which will require several months of rehab to heal.
On deck to face “Storm” are Season 6 finalists Maiquel Falcao and Andreas Spang, who will lock horns at a to-be-named event to close out the season.
Falcao, 31, has won 12 of his last 13 fights, earning unanimous decisions over Norman Paraisy and Vyacheslav Vasilevsky in the first two rounds of Bellator’s ongoing tournament. The one-time UFC veteran owns 23 of his 30 career wins by knockout and has been submitted just once in eight years as a pro.
Spang answered Bellator’s call as a late injury replacement for semifinalist Bruno Santos, who withdrew from the tournament after suffering a shoulder injury. The former Strikeforce talent did not disappoint in his Bellator debut, delivering a second-round knockout of Brian Rogers at Bellator 66 to advance to the tournament finals.