Lima Lamps Saunders, Shlemenko Rolls in Bellator Tourney Finals

By Jordan Breen Nov 12, 2011
Bellator's fifth season has its first two champions, as welterweight Douglas Lima and middleweight Alexander Shlemenko got their hands raised and clinched top contendership at Bellator 57 inside Rama, Ontario's Casino Rama.

Though both tournament winners will take home an additional $100,000 for their bracket victories, the two wins came in vastly different fashions. While Shlemenko failed to earn one of the highlight reel knockouts he's come to be known for against Brazilian Vitor Vianna, the grappling-savvy Lima showed the further maturation of his boxing game by knocking out tournament favorite Ben Saunders in the second round.

The 23-year-old Lima, fighting out of Atlanta, knocked out power puncher Chris Lozano in the Season 5 tournament semifinals in October courtesy of a brilliant counter right, and it was the same technical magic that produced the tournament-clinching victory against the southpaw Saunders.

"I knew it was there. He's left handed, so it was something we'd been working on," Lima explained of his knockout after the fight. "Throwing that left hook, coming back with the right straight. It's great when it works."

After a first round spent mostly clinching, Lima caught a kick from the 6-foot-3 Saunders and slammed him to the mat late in the frame. However, he failed to control "Killa B" and wound up being swept immediately to full mount, where Saunders rained down elbows for the final 30 seconds of the first frame.

It didn't take Lima long to get busy in the second frame, however. When Saunders launched a lame left, Lima tore into him with a powerful right cross. Saunders hit the mat in a heap, still conscious, but Lima's sky-high hammerfists followed immediately and took the UFC veteran out at 1:21 of the second round.

Lima, now 21-4, earns a crack at unbeaten Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren in 2012. Saunders falls to 12-4-2.

Though he didn't spin as much as usual, Shlemenko's striking attack was simply too much for the Las-Vegas based Vianna. Though the Brazilian landed right hands and managed to take Shlemenko down, the Russian was able to land in combination and more consistently, while escaping from Vianna's grappling advances.

As the fight wore on, Shlemenko mixed up his punches and kicks to the head and body, ultimately spelling the end of Vianna as an effective striker. After three rounds, judges Dr. Gregory Jackson and Jason Rodgers had it 30-27 while judge David Therien saw it slightly closer for Vianna, giving him the first round on a 29-28 card.

Shlemenko moves to 43-7 in his MMA career with the victory, while Vianna falls to 12-2-1. The victory earns Shlemenko another shot in the coming year at Bellator middleweight kingpin Hector Lombard, the only man to defeat Shlemenko in his last 12 contests.

Having also won Bellator's Season 2 middleweight tournament, the native of Omsk becomes Bellator's second two-time tournament champion, joining Pat Curran, who won the promotion's lightweight bracket in 2010 and completed a featherweight triumph at Bellator 48 this year.

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