Alexander Shlemenko throws everything with ill intent.
The former Bellator MMA middleweight champion cut down Kendall Grove with punches in the second round of their Bellator 162 headliner on Friday at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee. Grove (23-16) succumbed to blows 1:43 into round two, his modest two-fight winning streak having run its course.
Shlemenko (54-9) survived a scare in the first round, where “The Ultimate Fighter 3” winner buzzed him with a left hook and tore into him with winging punches and clinch knees along the fence. The 32-year-old kept Grove off-balance with his trademark spinning attacks, winging punches and a stout chin. Early in the middle stanza, Shlemenko sent a left hook plunging into the Hawaiian’s liver. Grove doubled over after a delayed reaction, ate a right hook upstairs and retreated to the mat in visible distress. He found no refuge there, as Shlemenko pounded away with punches until referee John McCarthy had seen enough.
In the heavyweight co-main event, former World Wrestling Entertainment superstar Bobby Lashley submitted Josh Appelt with a second-round rear-naked choke. Appelt (12-6) conceded defeat 1:43 into round two. It was a rout in every sense of the word (online betting).
Lashley (15-2) punched into the clinch, landed a double-leg takedown and proceeded to unleash brutality for the better part of four minutes. The 40-year-old moved from half guard to mount to top ride to side control, feeding Appelt punches, elbows and forearm strikes at every stop. Lashley appeared fatigued at the start of round two but trapped the onetime Gladiator Challenge champion in a standing guillotine and then pancaked on another takedown. He advanced to full mount yet again, forced Appelt to surrender his back and cinched the choke.
The surging Lashley has won eight fights in a row.
Meanwhile, Goiti Yamauchi needed a little more than a minute to submit Ryan Couture with a first-round armbar in a featured attraction at 155 pounds. Yamauchi (20-3) coaxed the tapout 61 seconds into round one, recording his 15th victory in his past 17 appearances.
Couture (10-5) executed a takedown from the clinch but wandered into immediate peril. Yamauchi secured full guard, climbed his legs toward the Xtreme Couture Mixed Martial Arts rep’s shoulders and locked up the armbar for the finish.
The 34-year-old Couture has dropped back-to-back bouts, both of them inside one round.
Finally, Rizin Fighting Federation alum Hisaki Kato buried A.J. Matthews with a head kick and a sustained burst of punches in the first round of their middleweight showcase. Kato (7-2) brought it to a close 4:58 into round one, as he won for the third time in four outings.
Matthews (8-6) saw his chance come and go. The 28-year-old King of the Cage and Strikeforce veteran set Kato on rubbery legs during a wild exchange but failed to capitalize on the opportunity. An inadvertent Kato eye poke resulted in a brief stoppage and gave the Japanese kickboxer a welcomed respite to clear his head. Upon the restart, he swarmed Matthews with strikes. A head kick had him reeling and led to the first of two knockdowns. Matthews withstood the follow-up barrage, escaped back to his feet and was met with a volley of hooks and uppercuts that sat him down at the base of the cage and prompted referee Blake Grice to act.
In other action, Team Quest’s Virgil Zwicker (15-5-1) put away Dan Charles (10-4-1) with punches 4:31 into the second round of their heavyweight pairing; Julia Budd (9-2) took a majority decision -- 29-29, 30-27, 29-27 -- from Arlene Blencowe (7-6) in their 15-minute encounter at 145 pounds; Ricky Rainey (12-4) captured a unanimous verdict over former Resurrection Fighting Alliance champion Gilbert Smith (12-6) in their three-round welterweight affair, earning 29-28 marks from all three judges; and Steve Garcia (7-1) posted a unanimous decision against Ronnie Lawrence (1-1) in their 15-minute battle at 135 pounds, sweeping the scorecard with 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27 nods.