Less than one week after announcing their new “tournament champion replacement clause,” Bellator MMA has put that provision to use.
The promotion announced Monday that Doug Marshall has suffered a broken hand in training and will be unable to challenge 185-pound champ Alexander Shlemenko for the title at Bellator 98. Instead, Shlemenko will rematch the man who Marshall knocked out to win the Season 8 middleweight tournament, Brett Cooper.
According to an official release, “Bellator fighters and executives voted to determine their choice of which fighter would earn their title shot.” Shlemenko and Cooper first squared off in a May 2011 non-tournament bout which saw the Russian earn a close split decision.
Since then, Shlemenko has won eight straight fights, including three more in 2011 to win Bellaor’s Season 5 middleweight tourney. The 29-year-old “Storm” most recently knocked out Maiquel Jose Falcao Goncalves in February to claim the title vacated by Hector Lombard.
Cooper, 26, had a six-fight win streak snapped in his April loss to Marshall. The Rafael Cordeiro student holds a 6-3 record in the Bellator cage, including victories over Norman Paraisy, Dan Cramer and Valdir Araujo.