February 24, 2014 – When reigning Bellator Middleweight Champ Alexander Shlemenko steps into the cage on March 28, the 29-year-old Russian will not only be looking for his 50th win, but he’ll also be fighting with a new contract in hand as Bellator has announced they just signed a long term extension for the man known simply as “Storm”.
“Bellator has been my home for many years, and it’s where I want to be,” said Shlemenko. “Bjorn made me a promise and now he’s living up to that promise by providing me with a new deal. I have made a home here, and I will continue to represent Russia in my efforts in the cage. I have gained millions of new fans, both in the US, Russia and around the world during my time with Bellator, and I will enjoy being Bellator’s longest reigning champion. I will continue wearing that belt with honor during my reign as champion, which will be at the peak of my career.” A career that began back in 2004.
As a teenager, Shlemenko got his start in army hand-to-hand combat and competed in many regional and national tournaments until he reached the highest level – the “Master of Sports” recognition. Then, after watching a professional Pancration tournament, he immediately wanted to try it out. Shortly after, he made his professional MMA debut at the age of 20 in his hometown of Omsk winning by TKO.
That’s all ancient history now. Currently he’s riding a 12-fight win streak that includes victories over Brett Cooper, Maiquel Falcao, Doug Marshall and Vitor Vianna. On March 28 on Spike TV, Shlemenko, now entering his 10th year as a professional MMA fighter, will defend his crown against Season 9 Tournament winner Brennan Ward. As one of the true Russian ambassadors for the sport, Shlemenko appears prepared to reign over the Bellator Middleweight division for years to come. Still, he’s got to be prepared for the questionable officiating which was present in the Brett Cooper match. We have attached a video of that fight for you to examine.
From the management side of the table
On Monday, February 24, Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney issued the following statement: “Alexander Shlemenko has been with this organization since its infancy, and has grown into one of the most dominant champions in MMA. I can say without hesitation, Alexander has been a large part of the success we have enjoyed over the last five years and as the biggest name in Russian MMA, he’s been the catalyst to the largest TV deal in the history of MMA in Russia. It’s an honor to have him fight in this organization. I look forward to watching his career continue inside the Bellator cage for years to come.”
At another of Shlemenko’s entertaining bouts along the long and winding MMA road, the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin along with Fedor Vladimirovich Emelianenko who many analysts, fighters, and experts consider to be the greatest mixed martial artist of all time, were present. Like Putin, who rose up in the ranks from Russian intelligence officer to Prime Minister and now president (1999–2008, 2012 -), Shlemenko has learned to take his lumps along the way.
In the slideshow, we have a photo of a Russian Boxing and MMA ring announcer and he could be, with his voice, hair and stature, be considered a clone of our Michael Buffer stateside.
Speaking of Buffer, I recently read on his website that he has made over $400 million dollars just in licensing fees. Buffer, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on November 2, 1944, is best known for being one of, if not the classiest ring announcers in boxing. He began his career in 1982 after trying his hand at several other careers including acting and modeling. Buffer became famous when he developed his signature catch phrase “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble” which he uses to kick off all major boxing and wrestling events. His shrewdest maneuver ever was when he trademarked that phrase.
How much does Buffer currently make to utter his catch phrase? Depending upon the match, Buffer typically earns between $25,000 and $100,000 every time he utters those five words. On a handful of extremely rare occasions, Buffer was paid $1 million. If they paid the same rate to his Russian counterpart, he’d be earning $35,471,900 Russian rubles. You’d have to agree that $1 million is a hefty chunk of change in any currency.