Alexander Shlemenko is back in title mode. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
After an unsuccessful light heavyweight foray against Tito Ortiz, Alexander Shlemenko will return to his natural weight class at Bellator 126.
The promotion announced on Wednesday that Shlemenko will defend his middleweight championship against Brandon Halsey on Sept. 26 at Grand Canyon University Arena in Phoenix. Bellator 126 will also include the Season 10 lightweight tournament finale, as Patricky Freire takes on Marcin Held for $100,000 and an eventual shot at 155-pound gold. Two other pairings round out the evening’s main card: Bubba Jenkins battles Alejandro Villalobos at 145 pounds, while Mike Richman meets Ed West at bantamweight.
Shlemenko last appeared at Bellator’s inaugural pay-per-view, where he was submitted by Ortiz via first-round arm-triangle choke on May 17. Prior to that, “Storm” had won 13 consecutive fights, including eight under the Bellator banner.
Halsey, meanwhile, bested Joe Pacheco and Brett Cooper to capture the promotion’s Season 10 middleweight bracket. Unbeaten in seven bouts as a professional, the Huntington Beach, Calif., native has also earned triumphs over Rocky Ramirez, Joe Yager and Hector Ramirez in the Bellator cage.
Freire punched his ticket to the 155-pound final with second-round stoppages of David Rickels and Derek Campos. Overall, “Pitbull” has earned nine of his 13 career victories via knockout or technical knockout.
The 22-year-old Held submitted Derek Anderson and Nate Jolly to earn a date with Freire. The Pole recently changed camps, making the move to Milwaukee to train with the vaunted Roufusport team.
“I’m training at one of the best gyms in the world with Duke Roufus and Roufusport, and my sparring partners have really elevated my game,” Held said in a release. “Even with my standup improving, my style isn’t going to change. I’m always going to look for the finish, but now I’m even more dangerous on my feet.”