Alexander Shlemenko talks stepping down to welterweight, fighting Paul Daley, Russian doping scandal, brawl at ACB 77

Talking to MMA Today right after ACB 77 event in Moscow, Russia, former Bellator middleweight campion Alexander ‘Storm’ Shlemenko told us about his future plans as well as plans of his teammates from the New Stream MMA team, possible fight with Paul Daley and Russian doping scandal.

Visiting ACB’s final tournament of the year, ACB 77 to support his teammate from New Stream MMA team, Alexey Polpudnikov at his second bout under the ACB banner, Shlemenko found some time for a short interview in one of the locker rooms of Rossiya Hall right after the event.

Alexander, first of all, could you tell us about ACB 77. How did you like the event tonight?

It was a great tournament. I liked pretty much everything about it. But there was moment when some of the fans started clashing not far from the cage side. There should be more security to prevent this sort of incidents. Emotions go high at MMA tournaments, so it should be prevented by the arena security.

Your ‘New Stream’ teammate Alexey Polpudnikov was fighting Arman Ospanov. Both showcased a great fight. But some of the fans did not agree with the judges’ decision, and started booing Alexey after the announcement. Was it a right decision in your opinion?

Yes, of course, the result is fair. Arman had great support at the arena tonight, they tried to boo the decision and that’s all. But it doesn’t matter. We can go through the fight and clearly see that Arman only won the third round with minor advantage, as he did nothing except for keeping Alexey on the ground without bringing any damage. And I think that Alexey won the first two rounds.

I noticed that you were trying to shout your advises for Alexey from the crowd. How come you weren’t cornering him in this fight?

Well, we have a big team, and this time other members were taking care of cornering our fighter. I was here just to support him from the audience.

Talking about your other teammates, Alexander Sarnavsky is scheduled to fight again in the ACB cage in February. Some time ago you’ve said that his recent losses are connected to his rather weak morale. Do you think he is ready to be back to his fighting mode?

We are working on it. We are working on his comeback. But then again I will be able to tell if he is back only when I will be watching his next fight. He has a fight scheduled, against a very serious opponent, Shamil Nikaev (8-0). And I think that this fight will show us everything.

What can you say about Andrey Koreshkov. When should we expect to see him again in the Bellator cage?

Unfortunately, we won’t see him fighting at least until April as he is recovering from a minor injury. But after he recovers we will move forward to get another Bellator title.

Talking about your own career, what’s on your radar at the moment?

Well, we are trying to contact Bellator, to get them giving me a fight as soon as possible. I really want to know what’s next for me in Bellator. Are they going to give me a fight? Or they are going to release me? I’m ready for anything, I’m ready for any solution just to get rid of this uncertainty status. There is nothing worse for a fighter than this uncertainty about your future.

I know that you’ve also mentioned a possible bout with Paul Daley, and also the fact you are willing to move down to welterweight to fight him. Was there any response from Daley’s side?

Yes, Paul is ready to fight. But it is not him who appoints fights, we are waiting for Bellator. I’m ready to face any opponent. And yes, I’m thinking of changing category and going down to welterweight, because I don’t get fights as often as I used to. So now I have enough time to properly prepare for the fight and make the weight. Before I wasn’t cutting much of the weight, because it allowed me to compete more often. I was ready to fight once or even twice a month. But now as I get a few fights a year, there is no need in it. So now I can change the category and fight with much lighter opponents.

Some time ago you also spoke about Russian doping scandal and the Russian Olympic ban which followed it. Considering the fact that you are not a stranger to doping controversy yourself, as you’ve been accused of doping a few years ago, and then basically justified later, how do you see the situation from your side?

The thing is, in my situation I had nobody to count on. I wasn’t backed by some prominent people, authorities or any sort of organizations. I was on my own, with my team. But Olympic athletes have federal support. They can rely only on the governing bodies, national Olympic committee and so on. It is not their business how they’ve been tested or who put scratches on their probes. The whole responsibility lies on the authorities’ shoulders. It is them who have to solve this problem and protect the athletes. And what makes me laugh is the way some ‘clean’ athletes look like, they look like professional bodybuilders. And then there is me. I look like an average person. But according to that test I am a juiced up to the max and my testosterone was sky high on the day of the fight. It’s just laughable. So I understand how those athletes feel. When there is some third side that affects your career you feel helpless.

by Denis Geyko for MMA Today

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