In a rare Russian versus Russian match-up taking place in the United States, Alexander Shlemenko and Anatoly Tokov are guaranteed to put on a great show for the fans. This fight is intriguing from a betting perspective.
A Storm is Brewing
A flashy and unpredictable southpaw striker, “Storm” is an appropriate nickname for Alexander Shlemenko. Lethal with both punches and kicks, Shlemenko is a complete striker that can finish you at any moment. He rips the body excellently and is renowned for his spinning kicks and backfists. Unsurprisingly, most opponents don’t want to stand with “Storm” and we’ve seen a susceptibility to takedowns throughout his career. This is probably not helped by the fact he’s undersized at middleweight (fortunately, his opponent is too). When Shlemenko moved up to fight Tito Ortiz at light heavyweight, the size difference looked ridiculous and the extra muscle certainly helped the American to drag the fight to the mat.
With nearly seventy fights on his record throughout a fourteen year MMA career, Shlemenko has a lot of mileage on his body. Now 34-years-of-age, I speculate he’ll slow down sooner rather than later. In his last fight, Shlemenko didn’t perform well – getting trapped against the ropes and pummeled into oblivion by Bruno Silva. Shlemenko was a huge favorite and probably busted a lot of parlays. If Shlemenko is to win, it’s imperative he keeps the fight standing. Since the submission losses to Brandon Halsey and Tito Ortiz, counter-wrestling has been a focus for Shlemenko.
Who is Anatoly Tokov?
Tokov may not be a household name, but he’s a deadly warrior hailing from the historic Siberian town of Tobolsk. He has competed in top russian promotions such as M-1 and ACB. On the feet, he doesn’t have the diverse offense or fluidity of his opponent, yet he’s still a highly effective striker. With a boxing-centric attack, Tokov likes to pick his shots. Despite a lack of combinations, his punches are accurate and powerful. Against a tough opponent in Arbi Agujev, Tokov got the better of the striking exchanges before scoring a TKO stoppage in round 4. Conventional wisdom would say he’s at a disadvantage standing, but I believe he’s good enough to stay competitive with Shlemenko.
Tokov’s best asset is his wrestling. Known for body lock takedowns and high amplitude slams, Tokov is tenacious when he wants to ground his opponents. He’s also dangerous from top position and can generate a lot of power at short range. His ground strikes knockout of Albert Duraev was terrifying.
Ultimately, I feel like this fight will be competitive standing but Tokov has a significant edge with his grappling. When you also factor that Tokov is in his athletic prime at 28-years-of-age while Shlemenko could be on the downswing of his career, I’m inclined to side with the younger man.
Pick: Anatoly Tokov -110
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