Opportunity to face middleweight champ Hector Lombard awaits the winner
Russian Alexander Shlemenko advanced to his second consecutive Bellator middleweight tournament final with a hard fought second round stoppage win over Brian Rogers in the main event of Bellator 54 last night in Atlantic City.
The 27-year-old kickboxer extended his winning streak to five, absorbing some punishment and losing the opening round before finishing Rogers along the fence with a series of powerful knees. Shlemenko is now 6-1 under the Bellator banner, his lone blemish a unanimous decision loss to Hector Lombard, the Cuban wrecking machine who reigns atop the middleweight division.
As the 16-2 Baker press forward, seemingly unconcerned about Vianna's stand-up skills, the Brazilian caught Baker with a right hand behind the ear that wobbled him. Sensing his opportunity, Vianna rushed forward, pinned the fallen Baker against the cage, and rained down punches until the referee stopped the bout.
After struggling to a split decision win in the opening round, there was nothing close about this fight, as Vianna earned his way into the finals in just 54 seconds of work.
Shlemenko and Vianna will meet next month to see who earns the title of Season 5 middleweight tournament champion, as well as the $100,000 prize and opportunity to face Lombard that goes to the victor. The former Olympic judo competitor is 30-2-1 with one no contest in his MMA career, and has won 19 consecutive contests since battling UFC middleweight Kyle Noke to a draw in July 2007.
Earlier in the evening, bantamweight champion Zach "Fun Size" Makovsky made very quick work of Ryan Roberts in a non-title match-up.
Competing for the first time since stopping Chad Robichaux in April, the 28-year-old Philadelphia Fight Factory product dominated from the outset. Makovsky used his speed and precision against the noticeably larger Roberts, a one-time UFC competitor who has spent most of his career at lightweight.
While Roberts was able to escape to his feet the first time Makovsky brought the fight to the floor, the second time proved to be the end. The bantamweight champion advanced to north/south position, secured the choke of the same name, and forced Roberts to tap with just 12 seconds remaining in the round.
Makovsky pushes his winning streak to eight with the victory, and gives Bellator champions a 12th consecutive victory against no defeats in non-title fights. The bantamweight champion will surely be paying attention next week, as the semifinal round of the 135 pound tournament headlines Bellator 55.
Unbeaten Cuban Olympian Alexis Vila faces Marcos Galvao, while Ed West meets Brazilian prospect Eduardo Dantas in the second seminal pairing. The event will also see Bellator light heavyweight champion Christian M'Pumbu take on long-time veteran Travis Wiuff in non-title action.