SAINT PETERSBURG, Russia (June 9, 2017) -- World-class MMA middleweights Alexander "Storm" Shlemenko and Brandon "Bull" Halsey have fought twice with each opponent imposing their wills from the opening bell to secure a quick victory.
Will they complete a rare MMA trilogy? Only if it's a light heavyweight fight, according to Halsey.
"I'd take the fight in an instant at 205 (lbs); I can't make it down to 185," Halsey said. "I think the fans would really love to see this fight. I'd be healthy, he'd be healthy. It would last more than 30 seconds. It would be a war!"
The two-fight split outcomes, which totaled only 56 seconds, calls for a "rubber match" to determine which one is the better fighter.
Shlemenko-Halsey 1 was held September 26, 2014 in Phoenix, Arizona (USA) as the Bellator 126 main event, in which Shlemenko defended his Bellator middleweight title. Halsey, a former Division I, All-American wrestler at California State University at Bakersfield, started strong and used his wrestling skills to win only 35 seconds into the match, by way of a technical submission via a rare-naked choke. The gifted American become the new Bellator middleweight champion.
Last Thursday night at M-1 Challenge 79 in Saint Petersburg, Shlemenko-Halsey 2 was the main event. Shlemenko stormed out of his corner, blasting powerful kicks and punches on Halsey;s body, until the referee halted the action at the 21-second mark for a stunning technical knockout triumph for the rugged Russian.
"We have to see how confident he is about himself," Halsey continued. "He has to feel really good right now, breaking my rib on his first kick, and punching me out on the ground. He must feel great about it. I don't see why he wouldn't want to do it again. I felt great about our first fight after I choked him unconscious in 30 seconds. I thought I could do it again, even with significant health problems. He must think he can do it again, even if we move up one weight class. Otherwise, what kind of champion is he, right?
"I believe that this trilogy fight could be a war, maybe something that will go down in the M-1 history books. The ball is in Shlemenko's court. I'll do the travelling. I'd come back to Russia and fight in front of his fans. The question is will he come up one weight class and fight me (at a weight) where I'm healthy? If he says no, well, then that's on him. I know fight fans will be disappointed if he doesn't take the fight just because he's a little small, but that's something he's going to have to think about.
"Look, if Fedor (Emelianenko) can walk around at 230 and fight guys that have 50-70 pounds on him, I don't know why Shlemenko can't win a fight at just 20 pounds heavier. Right? M-1 Global is a great outfit and I'm very glad to be fighting for them. They've got some studs at 205 that I'd love to a fight. And I know I've got a lot to prove after that embarrassing loss, so I'll take whoever they want to give me. If I get my head smashed in again, well, at least it will be more entertaining, but if I smash some guy's head in, well, that's what I expect and I can't imagine anything less.
"I'll take the next couple of weeks to get my health back, then start training. I'll be ready to fight whoever they put in front of me this time. No more getting my ass kicked by the weight cut. That's all behind me now. Let's see what happens."
According to Halsey, he never should have agreed to fight Shelemnko in their rematch.
"For the last two years," Halsey explained, "I've been struggling and I think it's time to let people know what's been going on. My stubbornness and pride got the better of me. Against the advice of my coaches, many of my trainers, my mentors and friends, I've tried to stay down at 185, while my body long outgrew that weight class. I believed I knew better than everyone else. I thought that I would simply will myself to the weight and believed that, because I was the champion at 185 and that I had won nine straight fights at 185, going up to 205 would be cowardice, laziness and weakness. And I was wrong.
"I was recently finally released from the hospital. I had several things wrong with me: renal failure from my kidneys shutting down from the weight cut, blood clot threatening my heart, broken rib causing internal bleeding, extreme hypotension (low blood pressure). The broken rib was from the fight, but the rest is from the weight cut. My doctors have told me that 185 is not a weight that I can safely make anymore. I hate to admit it but that's the truth.
"Shlemenko is a good fighter and right now we are one and one. I got him in 30 seconds, he got me in 25. Neither was a very good fight for the loser. And while he did break my rib with that very well-placed kick, I don't feel like he beat me. The scale beat me before I ever got into the ring.
"I do believe we should finish this trilogy and find out who is the best, once and for all, but it's going to have to be at 205. I understand if Shlemenko is nervous about fighting me at 205; he is small. In that case, I welcome a fight with whoever M-1 Global wants me to fight. If Shlemenko accepts the fight, as he did with Tito Ortiz, I hope we can finally have a war that lasts more than 30 seconds. If he doesn't, I'm sure fans will be disappointed to know he refused the fight just because of his size."
M-1 Global TV announcer Sean Wheelock not only called the original Shlemenko-Halsey fight, he also worked their rematch last week in Russia.
"In the first fight," Wheelock offered his unique, first-hand perspective, "Halsey came out and implemented his wrestling skills, hitting a takedown, took the back, and locked in a power rear-naked choke. Shlemenko is not one to tap-out, so he went to sleep (technical submission), which is what Halsey does best. Their last fight was the opposite, though, as Alexander Shlemenko came out right away with a body kick to the liver, then he went to work, eliminating Halsey's grappling and takedowns.
"They're two of the best fighters in the world. Both did what they do best to win, taking away what their opponent does best. I think a third fight would be great. I love doing commentary for both fighters; I'd happily call 50 Shlemenko-Halsey fights. A third fight would be very interesting."
Shlemenko's (56-9-0, 1 NC, M-1: 6-0-0) ground-and-pound vs. Halsey's (9-3-0, M-1: 0-1-0) wrestling-and-grappling in their trilogy fight. Who do you like in Shlemenko-Halsey 3? Keep in mind, though, the only chance of their trilogy fight is if Shlemenko agrees to fight Halsey at 205 pounds. Stay tuned!
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