On February 7th, in Duluth, Georgia Bellator has slated their 88th event featuring a battle for their vacant Middleweight title between stand outs Alexander Shlemenko and Maiquel Falcao. This is to fill the belt left vacant when Bellator was unable to match the UFC’s offer to their former champion Hector Lombard. Shlemenko has battled Lombard for 5 rounds, but fallen short of capturing the title. He has lobbied for a rematch, and at 46-7 overall, does deserve the shot. Falcao is coming off a tournament win in Season 6 to earn his shot. Let’s look at the fight….
Falcao too brings an extensive record of 31-4 overall, so it is a battle featuring two of Bellator’s most experienced fighters. Falcao is a big puncher who won three decisions to sweep Bellator’s season 6 tournament, but has a lot of KO’s and TKO’s on his resume.
Shlemenko spent most of season 7 with his teammates, as a big contingent of Russians were bought in to help with Bellator’s TV deal in that country. He has nine wins in a row since his loss to Lombard, and his overall competition level is higher than Falcao’s.
Shlemenko will likely be a favorite in the fight when the lines come out at the books, likely by about 2 to 1. Shlemenko will likely have a reach advantage, and he is the more unusual or unorthodox striker. Shlemenko will also likely have a bit of a cardio advantage, as Falcao has tended to tire. Shlemenko went the full five rounds in his loss to Lombard, something Falcao has not experienced yet in his long career.
The bout looks like a slug fest on paper, so anyone of the two men could land the big punch. as the fight drags on, Shlemenko is likely to establish himself as the more technical striker, and start to win rounds. Shlemenko also seems to retain power throughout his fights, and for all of his unorthodox attacks, also is the smarter fighter when it comes to settling into a game plan and executing it.
Should Shlemenko move to UFC one day, he may be better suited to the 170 lb welterweight class, but he won’t be undersized in this bout.
The action on this fight will likely be for Shlemenko, with bettors coming in if Falcao grows to be too big a dog. If that is the case, and Shlemenko expands to a more than 3 to 1 favorite, better to pass on the bet, as the likely outcome is Shlemenko with his hand raised at the end.