Alexander Shlemenko (center) celebrates winning the Bellator middleweight title with teammates Frodo Khasbulaev, Andrey Koreshkov and manager Alexei Zhernakov - Photo via Bellator
MMAmania's Brian Hemminger speaks with newly crowned Bellator Middleweight Champion Alexander "Storm" Shlemenko about his post-fight speech and victory dance, Falcao's disrespect at the weigh-ins and why he keeps calling out Hector Lombard in this exclusive interview
For Alexander Shlemenko, last Thursday night (Feb. 7, 2013) was worth the wait.
"The Storm" rose to the occasion in the main event of Bellator 88, hurting Maiquel Falcao badly on the feet with a body shot and then finishing him with ground and pound to capture the vacant Bellator Middleweight Title left behind by Hector Lombard
The Russian's post-fight victory speech proved exactly how excited he was:
"I am champion of Bellator. I am face of Bellator now. Who want with belt? Come on with cage. I am beat you!"
The head trainer out of the RusFighter Team spoke with MMAmania.com during a guest appearance on The Verbal Submission where he discussed his post-fight speech and victory dance, Falcao's disrespect at the weigh-ins and why he keeps calling out Hector Lombard in this exclusive interview.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): After you knocked out Maiquel Falcao, you did a little dance in the cage center. I need to know, where did you learn those dance movies, how long did you practice that dance?
Alexander Shlemenko: (laughs) I didn't train this dance. It just came natural. Some things just come naturally and I was very happy, very excited that I finally got the belt, finally became a champion and I just did the dance. I didn't think much about it at that moment.
Alexander Shlemenko: Andrey Koreshkov wins for sure. He used to be a professional dancer so he's the best at this.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I heard you went whale watching after getting back to California once you won the title. What was that like? Did it help you relax?
Alexander Shlemenko: It was very, very fun for me because I live in Siberia and it was the first time for me where I was in the ocean and seeing whales and dolphins and wildlife. It was very exciting and I loved it.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): After you won the title, everyone was in love with your post-fight speech where you said, "I am face of Bellator now, come on with cage. I am beat you!" How excited were you when you won that title and you were yelling and screaming like that?
Alexander Shlemenko: (laughs) Well I was so happy that I all of a sudden started to speak English. The whole speech is proof of how happy I was. It was a very, very, long time of waiting for this fight and I was very, very excited.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Was the moment last Thursday night worth the long wait?
Alexander Shlemenko: Yes, I can say it was worth waiting because this fight against Falcao, everyone in the United States was able to watch it on Spike TV and all of Russia was able to watch it on R2, the biggest Russian sports TV channel. This thing was worth waiting for a year.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You brought up Hector Lombard in your post-fight speech and you also mentioned him after your win in the Super Fight League last year. Why do you keep bringing up the former champion especially with him out of the Bellator picture now?
Alexander Shlemenko: Well during my post-fight speech, I didn't say anything bad about Hector. I just said I was supposed to fight him for the title and he moved to another organization so I wasn't able to fight him. Still, I wanted to fight him again and when we fought the first time, I was obviously not ready for that type of opponent and it showed. I'm a completely different fighter than I was over two years ago. My striking improved, my conditioning improved, my grappling improved, everything. I feel that if we fought now, it would have a different outcome and I'm really interested in this fight. That's why I keep him in mind.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): The differences between rounds one and two against Falcao were drastic. What exactly was it that you adjusted to attack in the clinch, turn up your aggression and attack with the body shots so much?
Alexander Shlemenko: I have a nickname "Storm" and it's for a reason. Usually a storm doesn't start suddenly, it instead starts slowly and in this fight, I wasn't able to unleash myself in the first round. I got better in the second round and if the fight would have lasted longer, I would have been fighting even better with a higher pace. I think that's the reason. I'm just a slow starter.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Your body strikes against Falcao were particularly effective, was there anything special about them that made them so potent?
Alexander Shlemenko: My body punch is actually my signature move. It works out good just against Maiquel Falcao. During sparring and all my fights, I'm able to use them very efficiently. I trained them a lot and I think it's essentially a very dangerous move that many people underestimate. I use them and will keep using them in the future.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): While you say your body punch is your signature move, everyone really seems to remember your spinning attacks more than anything. Was it difficult to resist throwing a spinning attack once you had him hurt rather than trying to finish him with straight punches on the ground?
Alexander Shlemenko: Well, yes, you are right. It was hard for me at that moment not to throw a spinning back move because I wanted to knock him out with a spinning back fist or spinning back kick but he fell on the ground earlier. I kind of expected him to stand up a little bit longer. Instead, he fell and I had to finish him on the ground.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Speaking of the finish to the fight. Do you think you knocked him down at the end with that short right hand or did you think that the combinations of punches to the body hurt him and he just wanted to go to the ground instead?
Alexander Shlemenko: I think he went down because of the number of liver shots that I landed. I saw that he was hurt and I kept punching him in the liver which is a very effective technique because it's very, very painful. When he went down, he couldn't even keep his hands up because he was holding his stomach and liver because I hurt him.
Also, I would like to say that if he would have acted differently during the weigh-ins, acted with more respect towards me instead of doing his tricks with the phone, I think I wouldn't have tired so hard to knock him out on the ground because I had saw that he had had enough from the body shots, but he chose to act stupidly, he chose to act the way he did so I chose to knock him out.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Speaking about that, you've had so many fights in your career but at the weigh-ins, just as you went to do the staredown with Falcao, he put a cell phone to his ear and turned away from you as if you weren't that important. Has anything like that ever happened to you and how did you react initially when he did it?
Alexander Shlemenko: In my 50 plus professional fights, I've had all kinds of opponents and some of them try to intimidate me or do something crazy during the staredown during the weigh-ins but all of them shook my hand after that. It's a sign of disrespect because we are both pro athletes. He didn't do that and it pissed me off and made me mad. At the same time, I was kind of happy about that because I consider myself a kind person and surprisingly I'm not a big fan of beating people up. So when my opponent pisses me off, it makes it much easier to hurt him, to knock him out, to beat the crap out of him. I was glad about that.
Gerry Rodriguez: After you put Falcao in his place, did he say anything to you after the fight? Did he show any kind of respect?
Alexander Shlemenko: He came to me, he tried to say something but frankly, I didn't really care at that moment. I was just waiting to get my belt, to get it put on my waist. That's all.