(Pretending to talk on the phone when your opponent is waiting for the face-off: Gangster. Photo via @BellatorMMA)
Bellator 88 goes down tonight at The Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Georgia, headlined by Alexander Shlemenko and Maiquel Falcao meeting for the promotion’s vacant middleweight title. This is a big freaking deal, relatively speaking. Here’s why you should care, and perhaps even tune in to the Spike broadcast at 10 p.m. / 9 p.m. CT.
Currently riding a nine-fight win streak, Shlemenko is 7-1 under the Bellator banner, winning the Season 2 and Season 5 middleweight tournaments. Though he lost his first title challenge in a 2010 decision against Hector Lombard, Shlemenko at least holds the distinction of being the only guy who Lombard wasn’t able to KTFO during his Bellator run. (We’d call that a “half-win.”) Shlemenko’s Season 5 tournament sweep in 2011 should have secured him a rematch with Lombard, but the Cuban slugger buggered off to the UFC, vacating his title.
Enter “Big Rig.” After an odd one-and-done career in the UFC, Maiquel Falcao eventually landed in Bellator, where he scored three consecutive unanimous decision victories last year to win the Season 6 Middleweight Tournament. And so, Bellator’s last two middleweight tournament winners will now face each other. So will Falcao’s power triumph over Shlemenko’s fancy spinnin’-shit? Check out some relevant videos after the jump and let us know what you think…
(Shlemenko vs. Bryan Baker, 6/24/10)
(Shlemenko vs. Zelg Galesic, 9/17/11)
(Shlemenko vs. Brian Rogers, 10/15/11)
(Shlemenko vs. Ikuhisa Minowa, 4/7/12)
(Falcao vs. Julio Cesar Bilik, 7/9/11)
(Falcao vs. Norman Paraisy, 3/16/12)
(Falcao vs. Andreas Spang, 5/18/12)