Storm Warning: Alexander Shlemenko talks Bellator 44 bout against Brett CooperPosted on May 12, 2011, 03:59 PM by Anton Gurevich
Bellator Middleweight Tournament winner, Alexander "Storm" Shlemenko, will return to action this weekend as part of the stacked Bellator 44 event at Harrah's Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey. In his last Bellator bout, Shelemenko challenged Hector Lombard for his Bellator Middleweight title, losing via Unanimous Decision after five rounds of war.
Shlemenko improved his MMA record to 38-7 earlier this year, after defeating Nick Wagner (previously 7-2) at Fight Festival 30 in Finland. Alexander Shlemenko has 24 KO/TKO, 6 Submissions and only 8 Decision victories on his record.
Here's what "The Master of Spinning Back Fist" had to say about his Mixed Martial Arts career, MMA in Russia and the upcoming bout against Brett Cooper.
Hello Alexander. You’re back in action this weekend, fighting Brett Cooper at Bellator 44. How are your preparations going for this one?
My training camp is over by now. I feel in awesome shape. My current weight is 89kg (196lbs), so I don’t have a lot to cut. I didn’t get to think about a gameplan yet, but I guess it will be based on striking just like my other fights.
Looking back at your Bellator Middleweight Title fight against Hector Lombard, what in your opinion you could have done better?
Well, I had to be more aggressive in the opening rounds. I was afraid to gas out at the first part of the fight, and that Hector would destroy me because of that. I started to work only in Round 4. And another thing is that I was too concentrated on looking for a knockout or submission. Sometimes you just have to work for points. And of course, Hector Lombard is not so easy to finish.
And of course it was the first 5-rounder in your career.
Exactly. I didn’t care much about what Hector would do. But I was really worried about going to distance for all five rounds. But I'm glad I tested myself in such a hard battle.
You prepared for this fight at various gyms in United States, such as Rafael Cordeiro’s Kings MMA, CSW Training Center and many others. What kind of influence it had on you as a fighter?
It was a good way to test myself against fighters like King Mo and Babalu, and to get an idea about where I stand skill-wise. The way this training camp went could have been better. Most of the guys who helped me to train for the Tournament Final against Bryan Baker were injured, and I was left with only a few sparring partners. Next time I’ll go there with my training partners Alexander Sarnavskiy (14-0) and Andrei Koreshkov (5-0), because I think that if they really help me out to prepare here in Omsk, where I don’t have a lot of MMA fighters at my level, a training camp in US would be very effective.
What’s the biggest difference between training in Russia and United States?
The gyms in USA are more MMA-oriented. It’s easier to prepare when you have all the necessary inventory. But the most important thing is sports medicine. It’s more advanced than the one we have in Russia, and it’s definitely a huge advantage for fighters coming out of United States. I personally think that our Saturn Gym in Omsk is currently one of the best in Russia, if not in all former Soviet Union.
Your opponent Brett Cooper currently trains at Kings MMA. Do you think that it might have some influence on his gameplan?
I had a few sparring sessions with him. Back then, he wasn’t a full time Kings MMA fighter… he trained at Antonio McKee’s gym, Body Shop Fitness. I also met him at Mark Munoz’ gym. We had a few rounds of sparring, so I know what to expect from him.
You fought only once this year, comparing to 6 last year. Would you like to be more active as a fighter?
Obviously, I would like to fight as much as possible. I’m a full time fighter, that’s how I make money. I would like to fight six times a year, or even more. I was happy to fight in Finland back in March. I’m not earning superstar money just yet, so I can’t afford to fight three times a year. I used to fight three times in one night, and that’s also why I already have 45 fights on my record.
What can you say about your protégé Alexander Sarnavskiy and his future in Mixed Martial Arts?
I think he will have a great success in his fighting career. I took care of him since the death of our coach Vladimir Tulzbarovsky, put him on the right track and made him to believe in himself. I believe in him, and I think that his record speaks for itself. Me and our manager Alexey Zhernakov do everything to ensure he develops into a top tier fighter. I would also like to mention our club owner Sultanmagomedov Kavkaz, who gives us perfect conditions for training. Alexander Sarnavskiy and Andrei Koreshkov are the fighters to watch. I firmly believe they will reach success much faster than me, simply because they have people to show them the way.
But you’re still only 26 years old. In my opinion, your best years are still ahead.
Yes. You know, before I was started fighting abroad, before I met the RusFighters President Alexey Zhernakov, I didn’t even think about a career of professional Mixed Martial Artist. I studied at the Siberian Academy of Physical Culture, and just wanted to make some money out of fighting. I didn’t think about making a career out of it or something, then, when I fought Jose “Pele” Landi, I realized that I can make a career out of it. I even didn’t prepare as a professional fighter, I prepared just out of my love for Russian Military Hand-to-Hand Combat Style. In fact, I feel like I started my career only after the victory over Bryan Baker at the Bellator Middleweight Tournament Final.
What will be the outcome of the fight against Brett Cooper?
First Round KO.
Would you like to thank anyone, or pass any message to your fans on LowKick.com?
I would like to thank my manager Alexey Zhernakov, SATURN Club owner Sultanmagomedov Kavkaz. And of course I would like to thank everyone who supports me; it’s really important, and it helps me to move forward. But there are also some haters, who are simply jealous and want to see me fail. I’m always happy to prove them wrong.
Photos: John Magana