Alexander Shlemenko and Brandon Halsey first fought each other in Bellator. Now their rematch will happen on an M-1 Challenge card in Russia.
It’ll be a battle of former Bellator middleweight champions at M-1 Challenge 79 on June 1st in St. Petersburg, Russia, as Alexander Shlemenko takes on Brandon Halsey in a rematch of their 2014 showdown, which saw Halsey beat Shlemenko to win the Bellator crown. Unlike Halsey, Shlemenko is still under Bellator MMA contract.
Shlemenko (54-9, 1 NC) is on a four-fight winning streak, with three of them coming under the M-1 banner. The 32-year-old Russian twice defeated Vyacheslav Vasilevsky, knocked out Kendall Grove in the Bellator 162 main event, then bested Paul Bradley by unanimous decision at M-1 Challenge 75. Shlemenko had been suspended for three years by the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) for testing positive for elevated levels of testosterone after a 2015 KO win over Melvin Manhoef, but successfully overturned that decision upon appeal. Both of the Vasilevsky fights occurred while Shlemenko was under suspension.
Halsey (9-2) submitted Shlemenko with a rear-naked choke in just 35 seconds at Bellator 126, but his reign as champion was so short-lived that he was stripped on the scales. He badly missed weight for a scheduled defense against Kendall Grove, and while he defeated Grove in May 2015, the title was left vacant. Halsey fought Rafael Carvalho for the vacant belt, and in a stunning upset, Carvalho stopped him with a body kick. Last June, Halsey was on the wrong end of another upset, as UFC veteran John Salter submitted him with an armbar. After the weight miss and two consecutive losses, Halsey was released by Bellator MMA.
More fights will be announced for M-1 Challenge 79 in the weeks to come.