Bellator 98: Shlemenko Retains Title in Slugfest

Brett Cooper

MMAFrenzy’s coverage of Bellator 98 concludes with our recap of tonight’s main event war between Bellator middleweight champion Alexander “Storm” Shlemenko and Brett Cooper. The crowd at the Mohegan Sun Casino Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut were treated to a classic bout that saw the Russian survive early danger to successfully defend his middleweight crown.

More: Bellator 98 ResultsBellator 98 Play-by-Play, Bellator Middleweight Tournament Recap

Shlemenko Edges Cooper in Firefight

Bellator middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko defended his title for the first time but challenger Brett Cooper did not make it easy. Cooper would wobble Shlemenko twice in the first two rounds but the Russian refused to capitulate and roared back. Shlemenko would nearly score a finish of his own in the third but Cooper refused to go down as well.

The two fighters kept throwing everything they had at each other for the duration of the fight, but Shlemenko would get the better of the exchanges as the fight wore on. The Russian fighter dropped a surprise on the American in the fifth round when he outwrestled Cooper in final frame to seal the victory with powerful ground-and-pound as the exhausted fighter tried hard for the finish. The victory is Shlemenko’s eleventh victory in a row and his first title defense since winning the title this past February in Duluth, Georgia.

Play-by-Play:

Rd. 1- Touch of gloves and we’re off. Storm catches a kick and trips Cooper but allows him to stand. Combo by Shlemenko is mostly blocked. Cooper keeps getting backed up by Storm’s hard combinations. Cooper with a nice combo but Shlemenko shrugs it off. Cooper tries a kick and gets rocked by a spinning backlist but he recovers. Another hard combo by Storm is mostly blocked. Cooper tries a takedown but it is stuffed. Storms feints his spinning attacks and a nice combo. Storm tries to swarm and gets wobbled by a left from Cooper. Cooper tries to follow up but Shlemenko survives and lands a few more combos in the round. MMAFrenzy has it 10-10 as Shlemenko’s volume equaled Cooper’s one moment.

Rd. 2- Cooper is swarmed by Shlemenko to start the round but he survives the rush. Nice counter right by Cooper. Cooper keeps waving Shlemenko on as he is looking to counter. Shlemenko is now bloodied but he is landing big shots before Cooper lands the takedown but he cannot do anything with it as Shlemenko stands. Shlemenko with another combination but Cooper keeps attacking. Nice left by Storm is answered by one from Cooper. Shlemenko stuffs a takedown attempt and he lands a big overhand right and a partial head kick. Cooper tags Shlemenko now and he is looking to finish but Storm survives. Big takedown by Cooper as the round ends. MMAFrenzy has it 10-9 Cooper.

Rd. 3- Doctor checked a cut over Shlemenko’s eye between rounds. Cooper gets tagged while changing levels but recovers. Big combo by Shlemenko and he lands a few more before Cooper answers. Inside left by Shlemenko on the entrance. Cooper brings a nice combo and Shlemenko waves him on. Cooper throws a hard right that is firmly blocked and Cooper shakes out his hand. Two nasty lefts by Shlemenko land. Cooper drops to a single but Shlemenko defends well. Wild combos by Cooper now and Shlemenko blocks and answers. Cooper goes for another single leg and then a double that takes the Russian down. Storm gives up his back to escape and he is out.Body strike and a big right hook by Shlemenko. Big elbow by Storm as teh round ends. MMAFrenzy has it 10-9 Shlemenko (29-29)

Rd. 4- Storm immediately attacks and he crushes Cooper with a massive shot. Big punches by Cooper and he somehow survives but he still wobbled. Big right by Storm now and Cooper’s nose is busted up now. Another big right by Storm. Storm catches the leg of Cooper and he uses it to set up a big knee to the body. Takedown attempt by Cooper is stuffed. Cooper lands a nice uppercut but Shlemenko waves him on. Massive left by Storm and a big right by him as well. Series of big lefts by Storm hurt Cooper but his wild shots force the Russian to play it smart. More big shots by Shlemenko and he lands a spinning back  kick right as the round ends. MMAFrenzy has it 10-9 Shlemenko (39-38).

Rd. 5- Both fighters are tired to start round 5 and the fighters touch gloves to start the round. More big strikes by Storm as Cooper tries to counter. Cooper in on a single and the Russian stops it. Same thing again and we’re centered. Power left by the Russian. Big knee to the body by Shlemenko. Shlemenko catches a kick and uses it to throw Cooper to the cage and land a big hook. Body kicks by Shlemenko now and Cooper again tries a takedown .Nasty straight left to right by Storm and Cooper lands an uppercut. 2-minutes left now. Body lock takedown by Shlemenko into side control and Cooper works back up. Big combos by Shlemenko and he just misses a head kick. Cooper waves in Storm and he obliges with a body lock takedown. Storm lets him back up with 0:50 left. Driving double by Storm with 0:30 left. Big, but tired, ground-and-pound by Storm. Big shots as the round ends. Great fight. Wow. MMAFrenzy has it (49-47) Shlemenko.

Alexander Shlemenko def. Brett Cooper via unanimous decision (48-47,48-47,48-47)