Tuesday was a big day for Bellator MMA as the promotion cemented the present and future of its middleweight division.

Reigning middleweight champion Alexander “Storm” Shlemenko signed a long-term extension with the company. Shlemenko, who has stepped up to become one of the faces of Bellator, is an outstanding 10-1 for the promotion and is currently riding a 12-fight winning streak that includes wins over Doug Marshall, Brian Rogers, and two over Brett Cooper. Shlemenko will look to make the third defense of his title when he steps in the cage with season nine middleweight tournament winner, Brennan Ward. That fight will be the main event of Bellator 114 on March 28 in West Valley, Utah.

Bellator 114 will also mark the start of the season 10 middleweight tournament. This season’s tournament will only feature four fighters as opposed to the traditional eight. Former title challengers Doug Marshall and Brett Cooper join former Ultimate Fighter winner, Kendall Grove and Dan Cramer.

Grove and Cooper will face off in the first match-up in in Utah. Cooper will be looking to get a third fight with Shlemenko after dropping a unanimous decision to the champion in one of the most underrated fights of 2013. Grove will look to build off the success of his outstanding Bellator debut last fall.

On the other side of the bracket, Marshall and Cramer will face off the week after Grove and Cooper at Bellator 115 in Reno, Nev. Marshall will be looking to win his second middleweight tournament and possibly get a second crack at Shlemenko. The champion stopped him with a body shot this past fall. Cramer, meanwhile, enters the middleweight tournament again, but will be coming off a year-plus long layoff after falling to Cooper in the semifinals of the season eight tournament.

The winners of the opening round bouts will face off later in season 10 and face the winner of the Shlemenko-Ward title fight later in 2014.

About The Author

Trey Downey
Staff Writer

A Central Florida native, Trey Downey's interest in MMA came after a trip to Blockbuster and the rental of UFC 47 on VHS. He has been blogging about the sport since 2011 and hosted a podcast called The TD Experience focusing on football and MMA (touchdowns and takedowns). Trey studied radio and television at the University of Central Florida and will soon be attending the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. Trey enjoys watching sports, pro wrestling and is an avid runner.