Posts Tagged ‘Alexander Shlemenko’

Bellator 131-33

By: Jonathan M. King The Clinch Report

Photos By: John Walsh The Clinch Report

Weight can be a finicky burden. Sometimes you don’t realize how heavy something is until you let it go. For the better part of 15 years Tito Ortiz carried a good portion of the load. Weather his former employers are willing to admit that or not, weather his detractors are willing to admit that or not, it is undeniable he was one if not the, torch bearer for a long time.

However that weight started to take its toll. Years of fighting injured, and ‘answering the call’ to duty had left the former Champion adrift in the rankings, injured and without any real love from the house he helped build. So he left. And it appeared the sun was setting on a former UFC Champion and UFC Hall of Famer. However, Tito Ortiz just didn’t feel ready to call it a career yet. And once again, the sun began to peek above the horizon.

So, he signed with Bellator MMA and after an initial fight with Rampage Jackson fizzled out due to an Ortiz neck injury, it seemed Tito would ride out the rest of his days in quasi relevancy appearing from time-to-time. However then they announced his first fight.

Ortiz debuted against former 185 lbs champion Alexander Shlemenko (51-9 MMA) and quickly dispatched him with a head and arm choke. Although the much larger man, Ortiz looked the part putting the smaller striker to sleep before digging his grave in the center of the cage, in classic Ortiz fashion.

Then he went on to systematically beat the tar out of an aging Stephan Bonnar (15-9 MMA). Again although Ortiz’s opponent didn’t look up too snuff, Ortiz certainly did. His wrestling looked as explosive as ever, and his gas tank never emptied. That win, although not against a top contender, led him to this title shot against current champion Liam McGeary (10-0 MMA). In McGeary, Ortiz not only faces the Champion but his toughest test since switching companies.

The champion McGeary on paper presents a ton of challenges, mainly his freakish reach. Ortiz not know for his boxing will somehow have to find a way inside in order to impose his will. If he ends up going backwards, or flailing for a takedown it could be long night, (or a short one) for Ortiz. However if Ortiz can bring the fight into his own neighborhood he certainly has the power and ability to end the fight himself. the one outcome that is assured is greatness! Greatness is bound to happen, either McGeary becomes bonafide, or Ortiz shocks the world, how can you not watch?

Win or loose Ortiz has already said his fighting career will continue, and from the way he has looked in the cage and in training who can argue? His performance against McGeary may steer some opinions one way or the other, but one thing seems certain, the sun may have set on the Huntington Beach Bad Boy, but its only rising for the ‘Peoples Champion’.

dynamite

Tito Ortiz took a second to talk with Aaron Tru from The Brutally Honest Radio Show about his upcoming fight, his journey for another world title, and about cementing his name in history. Plus his lovely girlfriend Amber Nicole also has a few things to say about how the ‘People’s Champion’ prepares. Check out the video below:

Brutally Honest Radio is hosted by Aaron Tru, Adrian Gallegos, and Jonathan King. The podcast is broadcast live each week from an undisclosed studio in Long Beach California. You can subscribe and download each episode on iTunes. Or you can listen on sound cloud.

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Blagoi Ivanov

 

By: Jonathan King The Clinch Report

Photos By: John Walsh The Clinch Report

 

Bellator MMA’s roster of fighters is a diverse group of young talent, coupled with a few older lions who are looking for to either return to form, win a world title, or too  prove to themselves that they can still mix it up with the best. Three fighters that we will focus on tonight are Blagoi Ivanov, Karo Parisyan, and Vladimir Matyushenko.

On the Cusp of Immortality

Two years ago, Blagoi Ivanov was at the start of a very promising Bellator MMA career. He came to the company on the heels of defeating MMA Legend Fedor Emelianenko in the World Sambo Championships. Everything was going according to plan. Until armed thugs confronted Ivanov and a group of friends in his homeland of Bulgaria, at a nightclub. During the melee, Ivanov was stabbed under the armpit with a 12 inch blade. The wound pierced his heart, and lungs. Emergency surgery was performed to save the young fighters life, but then infections set in. Ivanov was placed into a medically induced coma, where he lay near death for over 80 days, in the dark.

When he awoke, he was a shell of his former self. The once strapping heavyweight was closer to a welterweight in size, and walking and breathing became his new hurdles. His career was effectively over as a fighter, however someone forgot to tell him. He spoke with Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebeney and promised that he would return. After one year of intense training, Ivanov began to put on the weight he slept off, and slowly but surely began regaining his facilities.

Since his return, Ivanov appeared to not have missed a step. He has remained undefeated. His latest win at Bellator 116 over former UFC fighter Lavar Johnson, came via a slick Americana late in the first round that forced ‘Big’ to tap. The win has earned Ivanov a place in the Heavyweight Tournament Finals where he will face former Title holder Alexander Volkov for a shot at the World Title. In two years Ivanov has been in places not many have gone before. He keeps defying the odds at every turn, he is a champion in life, and soon may have the belt to match.

Return to Form

From 2002-2008 Karo Parisyan was one of the worlds top welterweight fighters. He was fighting all over the world, and was on the verge of a title shot. During this run, the young judoka was considered one of the sports most talented fighters. With wins over Nick Diaz, Josh Burkman, Ryo Chonan, Former Champion Matt Serra, and Chris Lytle, Parisyan seemed set to have a long successful career. Then the wheels fell off!

Parisyan spoke with us before his fight with Rick Hawn, and told us how his life spun out of control. Substances that initially were designed to heal the nagging injuries a fighter must deal with, became part of his every-day routine. He was cut from the UFC, and seemed to be another case of wasted talent.

Like a real champion, Parisyan woke up one day and realized what he was losing. He sought help and slowly began to find himself again. He also started to feel that fire in his belly, that once labeled him ‘The Heat’. Taking some fights on the regional circuit may be difficult for a fighter who once fought at the top, however it was that same humility that led Parisyan back into the light.

After a few fights with mixed results, ‘The Heat’ began to churn into an inferno again. With his weight in check, and his problems in his rear view mirror, Parisyan was given a second chance with Bellator. His first fight against Rick Hawn was a difficult task, however Parisyan attacked from the opening bell. His hands looked up to speed, his movement was working and then he got caught. Hawn won the fight but it was obvious to everyone in attendance that Parisyan was on his way back.

His next fight was equally difficult. At Bellator 116 Parisyan was paired with AKA’s Ron Kesslar who is coming off a big win over War Machine. On paper the match pitted judoka v wrestler. However its was Parisyan’s hands that made the difference. late in the second round, Parisyan dropped Kesslar with a series of punches and was able to finish with impressive ground and pound.

The win solidified Parisyan’s chances for being selected in the next welterweight tournament. Parisyan, at one time could have been one of the best in the world. In fact he was one of the best. However real champions are not made they are built. In Parisyan’s case he is rebuilt. This version, the 2.0 version is much more humble and intelligent. Like the phoenix before him, ‘The Heat’ has risen from the fire and the future looks very bright!

Farewell to A Legend

Vladimir Matyushenko has fought everywhere, and in every major organization. ‘The Janitor’ has long been one of the top light heavyweight fighters in the world. The former IFL Champion, fought in the UFC, Bellator, IFL, IFC, and Affliction and many other organizations around the world. With a record of  27-8, Matyushenko has shared the cage with a ‘who’s who’ of the MMA elite.

At Bellator 116, Matyushenko lost to Joey Beltran via North South choke late in the 3rd round. The legend left his gloves in the cage signifying his retirement. Like a wrestler leaving his shoes on the mat, ‘The Janitor’ said goodbye to the world of fighting but will remain relevant in MMA as one of the best wrestling coaches alive. Vladimir is living the American dream. He came to this country speaking only the language of a wrestler, now he is revered as legend. Matyushenko will continue as the head wrestling coach at Dynamix MMA in Santa Monica where he will be an amazing influence on all fighters young and old for many years to come.

By: Jonathan King The Clinch Report

Main Card Analysis and Predictions

Karo ‘The Heat’ Parisyan (22-9) vs Rick Hawn (14-2)

An very interesting match-up kicks off the Spike TV televised main card, as former UFC title contender Karo Parisyan makes his Bellator debut against former lightweight tournament winner Rick Hawn. As high level Judo practitioners they are no stranger too each other, and the competition has fueled a heated rivalry. Simply put these guys don’t like each other. Parisyan is finally healthy again, after several years of injuries, and personal issues that cost him his status in the division.  Hawn, makes his return to welterweight in hopes of winning another title shot. However, Parisyan is a savvy veteran, who is in great shape for the first time in a long time, so he should turn some heads with his performance.

Predictions: Rick Hawn via Decision


Magomedrasul ‘Frodo’ Khasbulaev (20-5) vs Mike Richman (15-2)

Khasbulaev won his last fight vs Marlon Sandro in very impressive fashion. Dominating the perennial contender for 2 1/2 rounds before finishing him with strikes late in the third frame. In doing so ‘Frodo’ (as he is called), earned a featherweight tournament finals position against Mike Richman who won a hotly contested decision to Alexander ‘Popo’ Bezzera. Richman may have the edge in striking technique, but Khasbulaev will have a decisive strength advantage.

Prediction: Khasbulaev via TKO rd 2


Brett Cooper (19-7) vs Doug ‘The Rhino’ Marshall (17-6)

The middleweight tournament finals features the classic striker vs grappler match-up. Cooper is a very well rounded mixed martial artist, who has a very strong wrestling base. However, it was his chin and fortitude that was on display in his last fight, which saw Cooper nearly out on his feet at one point, only to come back and win by KO. Marshall’s journey to the finals was much more controversial as he won a a split decision over Sultan Aliev, in a fight many thought he lost. Marshall will need to learn from that fight, and avoid the wrestling of Cooper if he wants to win this fight. Cooper, needs to stay away from Marshall’s power striking game, and stay in his chest.

Prediction: Cooper via Decision


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Pat Curran Champion (18-4) vs Shahbulat Shamhalaev Challenger (12-1-1) For The Featherweight Title

Shamhalev is riding a 6 fight win streak, that allowed him to step in for the injured Daniel Strauss (who will get his shot eventually according to Bjorn Rebeney) and stake his claim to the title. In his way, is one of the “Faces” of  Bellator Pat Curran. Curran is currently ranked #3 or #4 in the world at featherweight, and is in the midst of a 5 fight win streak that has seen him win and defend the featherweight strap. Shamhalaev will look to neutralize Curran’s strong wrestling with his Sambo back-round. This fight should be an exciting slug fest.

Prediction: Shamhalaev via 3rd rd TKO

Commentary on Bellator:

In the movie “Field of Dreams” the voice of a ghost eerily yet soothingly tells Kevin Costner’s character “if you build it, they will come!” In summary, he does…and they do!

This seems to be the exact format that Bellator has been using from the beginning. Simply put, if they have exciting fights, people will watch, no matter what the names of the fighters are, and even if you can’t pronounce them.

Since the move to Spike TV, Bellator has enjoyed very high ratings. The simple reason for the surge, the fighters! Unlike other promotions that use pomp and circumstance to create drama, and too build hype, Bellator approaches their setup as a fight fan would, not as an event coordinator! The result, a rear view mirror filled with exciting fights.

Leading the charge, is a long list of talented fighters from Russia, with even longer names. A place now dubbed “The New Brazil” according Bjorn Rebeney Bellator CEO. Fighters such as: Shahbulat Shamhalaev, Magomedrasul Khasbulaev have followed the success of Alexander Schlemenko and are now on the precipice of their own title shots.

Bellator’s growth is assured, not because of the popularity of the sport, but because people will always watch exciting fighters fight each other, no matter who is listed on the marquee.



TUF 17 - Wear What the Fighters Wear

Marlon Sandro is a warrior!

Marlon Sandro is a warrior!

The Clinch Report by Jonathan King Photos by: John Walsh

Bellator MMA Championship tournaments have been on an exciting run of late showcasing some of the best MMA fights ever to be seen on live television. Since the company has moved over to Spike TV, the organization has seen a revolving door of exciting fights, and stunning upsets, most of which have ended in highlight real KO’s. Can this trend continue?  The Bellator matchmakers seem to think so, but maybe that is because they are sitting on a “Golden Goose” so to speak.

Since Bellator joined the foray on SpikeTV, filling the vacancy left by the UFC, it seems almost ever single fight has been an exciting one. One reason for that is the matchmakers at Bellator seem to have discovered a hidden vault of  vicious unheard of fighters from the “New Brazil” as Bjorn Rebeny said. Where is the “New Brazil”? It very well could be Russia.

For years the Heavyweight division in MMA was dominated by one man. Fedor Emelianenko may be the most popular Russian mixed martial artist of all time, but following him are a cadre of talented fighters, with varying styles. Most of these fighters seem to be ending up in Bellator.

With Bellator’s debut on SpikeTV the world became exposed to this Russian invasion for the first time, and many including most ring side reporters were shocked. Heading into that night MMA legend Renato ‘Babalu’ Sobral was the favorite to win the light heavyweight tournament. That night he was supposed to run through his unknown opponent, however Mikhail Zayats had other plans. The heavy handed Russian dispatched ‘Babalu’ with vicious strikes that left the legend in a crumpled heap, and the fans with their mouths agape. The only people who were not surprised, were the Bellator match makers who all week were lauding the power and skill of the underdog Zayats.

Last nights Bellator 92 featherweight and Middleweight tournament Semi finals featured more of the same. Akop Stepanyan started the Russians contingent off on the right foot, by laying heavy hands on Chris Saunders early and often. Eventually finishing the fight with a liver splitting kick that Saunders complained caught him low. After the ref said fight on, Stepanyan dropped some academic ground strikes that forced the stoppage, but the highlight reel kick is what finished the fight.

Sultan Aliev was next set to face Doug Marshall in a battle for the Middleweight Tournament Finals. Aliev used his impressive wrestling and sambo skill, to smother the explosive Marshall. With the crowd booing and Marshall complaining to the Ref, Aliev seemed content to grind out a decision against the heavy handed striker. However, he stopped advancing positions, and began to receive warnings from referee Herb Dean.  As the second round wore on, several times the ref stopped the action to restart the fighters standing. On the restarts, Marshall showed his explosive power often landing heavy hands before again being dragged to the mat. The third round saw a much more aggressive Marshall swinging for the fences. As the round came to an end, Marshall dropped some heavy hands on Aliev as he pulled guard. Once the split decision was read in favor of Marshall he seemed more surprised than anyone. Aliev, although dominant like his fellow Russians, fell short on the judges score cards, but most who saw thought he won the fight.

The headline fight of the evening featured Marlon Sandro vs ‘Frodo’ Khasbulaev. The winner of the fight would move on to the featherweight semi finals. For Sandro, this is a familiar position. In the past he had come up one fight short, in tournaments past. His return to the finals, was being blocked by a relatively unknown fighter, once again from Russia. Both fighters were extremely strategic, with their positioning, and soon it became clear that a Sambo v BJJ clinic would ensue. An inadvertent early low blow by Sandro almost stopped the fight, as Khasbulaev rolled in agony for several minutes. But after 5 minutes he was able to continue.

Both fighters used effective sweeps to gain control, Khasbulaev at one point used a kimura sweep to put Sandro in deep trouble as he cranked the arm. Sandro however used his own sweeps to attack a triangle that ‘Frodo’ escaped quickly. The second round saw more take downs by Khasbulaev but again Sandro seemed to escape every precarious situation including a crucifix position, that saw multiple right hands bounce off of his forehead. The third round was more of the same, but now Sandro seemed to be tired. Khasbulaev controlled the Brazilian on the ground, and again secured an arm that left Sandro defenseless against several right hands, prompting Referee John McCarthy to stop the fight.

With the win, Khasbulaev secures his spot in the featherweight finals, and for a chance at the 100,000 dollar prize for winning the most exciting tournament in all of Mixed Martial Arts. With Khasbulaev, and Zayats in the finals of their tournaments, and with Alexander Shlemenko as a champion, Bellator may have found the new Brazil buried in the arctic landscape of Russia.