Former Bellator MMA middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko could fight stateside much sooner than anticipated.

According to a report from, the California Superior Court ruled that the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) was able to suspend “Storm” only until his license to fight in the state expired back on February 28.

Shlemenko received a three-year suspension after testing positive for the anabolic steroid oxandrolone. The failed test occurred following his knockout of Melvin Manhoef at Bellator 133 on February 13, 2015. The Russian fighter also had a 50:1 testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio. The threshold for a failed test in California is 4:1.

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Shlemenko’s attorney Howard Jacobs petitioned the court to reduce the suspension, arguing that the initial letter of notification Shlemenko received levied only a one-year suspension. The court agreed that CSAC could not increase the length of the suspension following the appeal process.

Additionally, Shlemenko’s $10,000 fine was reduced by half. CSAC handed down that portion of the fine because Shlemenko allegedly made false statements on drug-testing documents. However, Jacobs argued that commission rules state that a fine can only be given if false statements are made on a license application. The court agreed.

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However, the court did not agree with Jacobs’ assertion that the commission was biased in its proceedings and needed to make Shlemenko’s “B” sample available as part of the testing protocol. But the decision to discipline the Russian fighter was upheld.

Shlemenko is still under contract with Bellator, but it is unclear if he will fight for the California-based promotion again. Since being hit with the suspension, he has fought twice in his native Russia under the M-1 banner, beating Vyacheslav Vasilevsky twice. Prior to his fight with Manhoef and another victory at a Fight Nights: Battle of Russia event, Shlemenko suffered back-to-back submission defeats. First he tapped to a Tito Ortiz arm-triangle in a light heavyweight affair, and then he relinquished the Bellator middleweight title to Brandon Halsey. He had defended the strap three times.

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Josh found MMA in 2009 and has been an increasingly voracious consumer of the sport ever since. He started writing in January 2016, first as a blogger and then as a writer for LowKickMMA. He produces historical list pieces, occasional news coverage, opinions, and fight analysis for LK. He also co-hosts the Daily Fantasy Knockout podcast.