Bellator 109's Alexander Shlemenko: 'I see myself winning by knockout as fast as possible'Alexander Shlemenko loves to fight often. The Bellator Middleweight Champion doesn't look at fights like most people, he sees every bout he takes as a sparring session for his next fight. It's always about the next fight for the wily Russian, even when he has a grueling five round war. That's what happened in his last title defense, where challenger Brett Cooper gave him all he could handle for 25 minutes, even rocking "Storm" with some heavy shots in the second round. But despite taking just about as much damage as UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones (who fought two weeks later), Shlemenko is stepping into the Bellator cage to defend his title again just over two months later. The talented Rusfighter team leader will be taking on Bellator season eight middleweight tournament winner Doug Marshall later tonight (Nov. 22, 2013) in the main event of Bellator 109, and he's ready to shut Marshall up. Shlemenko spoke to MMAOddsbreaker.com during a guest appearance on The Verbal Submission talking about quick turnarounds, fight week diets and how he'd like to finish Marshall in this exclusive interview. Check it out: Brian Hemminger: Let's start with something simple. We had a bit of trouble finding you because you were out eating at a restaurant, so what was it that the Bellator middleweight champion is eating during fight week? Alexander Shlemenko: I had filet mignon. I love beef well done. I had some rice too. Brian Hemminger: Do you have to diet much or cut a lot of weight to make 185 pounds, or do you get to eat what you want? I don't hear about fighters eating steak much this close to a big fight. Alexander Shlemenko: I cut 11 pounds. I eat everything (laughs). Brian Hemminger: Okay, onto something much more serious. Have you been working on your dance moves in case you have an impressive victory at Bellator 109? Alexander Shlemenko: (laughs) When I got married, I learned how to dance so I could dance with my bride. My wife will be there with me, so maybe after the fight I will do that dance in the cage. Brian Hemminger: We had a heavyweight title fight this past Friday night with two Russians Vitaly Minakov taking on champion Alexander Volkov for the belt. Were you in one side's corner or did you remain neutral since you've worked with both fighters as teammates in the past? Alexander Shlemenko: I would say that even though I kind of picked a favorite in this fight, I didn't really root for anybody. Both of them are from Russia, both are represented by my manager Alexei Zhernakov here in the United States. I've trained with both so I just stepped aside and I watched the fight as a fan. Brian Hemminger: Minakov looked amazing, but was it bittersweet seeing him knock out a friend and training partner? Alexander Shlemenko: I can't say it was a bittersweet feeling for me because I knew both guys were ready for this fight. I felt sorry because in my opinion, the fight should have been stopped earlier. It should have been stopped earlier at the moment Minakov clipped Alexander but at the moment it was actually stopped, I think it was too early because Volkov was defending himself well. It's a championship bout and in a championship bout, the knockdowns happen and you can't just stop a fight so early. I think the actual stoppage was a bit premature. Brian Hemminger: Does that concern you at all heading into this fight? Doug Marshall hits very hard and if he hurts you, are you worried you might not be given a chance to recover if it's the same referee? Alexander Shlemenko: After watching the fight between Hendricks and GSP, I'm more worried about a strange judges' decision after the fight. I'm aware that Doug Marshall hits hard but I'm prepared for that and I'm not really worried about anything else. Brian Hemminger: You fought just over two months ago, just two weeks before Jon Jones had his wild five round battle against Alexander Gustafsson. Jones has said he took too much damage and he doesn't even want to fight by February, that it's too soon, but you're fighting just over two months after being in a similar type of five round war. What are your thoughts on fighting so quickly after a five round war compared to someone who doesn't want to fight six months after their own similar fight? Alexander Shlemenko: I'm different from those types of fighters. When I started my MMA career, I was doing many one night tournaments so I'm used to fighting often. For me, it's better to fight often because I see every one of my fights as training and sparring for my next fight. It's actually better for me to fight often. I like to fight often. Brian Hemminger: I don't know if you've been reading anything Doug Marshall has been saying lately, but he said that he was surprised about your five round fight with Brett Cooper because he knocked out Cooper in three minutes. I just wanted to hear your thoughts in response. Alexander Shlemenko: You know what, Zelg Galesic beat Doug Marshall in under a minute and I beat Zelg Galesic in less than two, so that's another fight you can use in comparison. Brian Hemminger: Another thing he brought up is he doesn't think you have the speed or you hit hard enough to beat him. How do you compare your power to his? Alexander Shlemenko: Well, I'm quite confident that he'll change that opinion after the fight. After the fight, it would be good to ask him about my stand-up. I feel after the fight, that question would be more relevant. Brian Hemminger: When you picture victory on Friday night against Doug Marshall, what do you see? Alexander Shlemenko: I picture myself winning by knockout as fast as possible. The faster the better. Alexander would like to thank the fans who support him, especially his new American fans. He'd also like to thank his Rusfighter team and his manager/translator Alexei Zhernakov.
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About the Author
Brian Hemminger has been involved in MMA since 2007, and is highly regarded for his well-researched and knowledgeable interviews. He has hosted The Verbal Submission MMA podcast for three years and was a staff writer at MMAmania.com from 2011 to 2013 with an extensive background in live coverage, fight previews and post-fight analysis.
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