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Brett Cooper, left, prepares to hit belt holder Alexander Shlemenko during a middleweight bout at Bellator 98 in Uncasville at Mohegan Sun on September 7. Shlemenko won by decision. 
Photo by Nicola Faraone
Shlemenko defeats Cooper in Sept. 7 slugfest at Bellator 98;
Anderson defeats Pitbull during Mohegan Sun event
MMA middleweight fighters Brett Cooper, left, and Alexander Shlemenkl
By Brian Woodman Jr.

   Middleweight Brett Cooper (19-9) expressed optimism prior to his Sept. 7 bout with Bellator Middlewight Champion Alexander “Storm” Shlemenko (48-7) of Omsk, Russia at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville. 
   “My goal has always been the same; to get the belt” indicated Cooper of Long Beach, California in a prepared statement. “I’m always making improvements and this is an incredible opportunity that I am not going to pass up.” 
   The fight, which was the main event at Bellator 98, ended in an unanimous decision awarded to Shlemenko after five rounds. The fight, during which Shlemenko threw a large number of spinning back fists, was an evident crowd pleaser.
​   Earlier that evening, Derek Anderson (10-0) of San Diego, California defeated Brazilian native Patricky Pitbull (10-5) during a lightweight fight originally scheduled for the preliminary card. It was pushed to the main card after Joe Warren’s bantamweight fight with Nick Kirk was dropped (see our blog for more details). 
   Cooper, who lost to Shlemenko during a bout two years ago, was selected to fight in a rematch with him at Bellator 98. Shlemenko’s original opponent, Doug “the Rhino” Marshall (18-6), suffered a broken hand during training, according to information from Bellator spokespersons. 

Lightweight MMA fighters Patricky Pitbull, bottom, and Derek Anderson
Patricky Pitbull, bottom, gets Derek Anderson in a triangle during their lightweight bout at Mohegan Sun on September 7. The fight was part of Bellator 98 and was aired live on Spike TV. 
Photo by Nicola Faraone
   Marshall won Bellator’s Season Eight Middleweight Tournament, which put him in contention against Shlemenko. Cooper, who finalized during that tournament, was selected by a popular vote of Bellator executives and fighters to replace Marshall for the shot under a championship replacement clause that spokespersons claim was invoked for the first time because of this event.
   “When we fought in 2011, it was a absolute war and I’ve grown into a much different fighter over the last few years,” stated Cooper. “I’m 26 years old and this is my time to take the next step.”
   The two fighters did a little clinching but generally stalked each other and threw furious exchanges of punches with occasional knees and kicks during the first three rounds. Shlemenko was visibly bleeding from his face in the second round and looked shaken during the third after another solid hit from Cooper.
After eating a brutal flurry of punches from Cooper during the third, Shlemenko actually threw up his hands in what appeared to be a defiant gesture. Cooper eventually scored a takedown later in the round.
   As the fourth round opened, Shlemenko knocked Cooper down and pounced on him. Cooper survived the attempted ground-and-pound and got to his fight, but throughout the rest of the round the Russian appeared far more energetic. Shlemenko ended the round by trying to land a spinning back kick in Cooper’s face.
   The fifth round contained a few more exchanges with Shlemenko scoring two takedowns. The crowd appeared excited with the fight, which capped an evening of consistently entertaining events. 
​   Earlier that evening, Anderson won by decision following an exciting three-round battle that included a good balance of groundwork and stand up action. Each knocked the other down during the first round, although both recovered quickly.Pitbull brought the fight to the ground during the first round but Anderson handled himself well there and escaped an attempted leg triangle. 
  Anderson appeared more aggressive in the second round but it still went back and forth. Anderson threw a head kick and Pitbull responded with an attempted double-leg takedown.They continued to exchange during the third round, with Anderson throwing a successful head kick and Pitbull responding with a punching combination. 
MMA lightweights Derek Anderson, left, and Patricky Pitbull
Derek Anderson, left, baits Patricky Pitbull during their featured lightweight fight at Mohegan Sun on September 7. It was all part of Bellator 98.
Photo by Nicola Faraone