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We talked to Shlemenko about Fedor, wrestling ten small bears, Manhoef and Pussy Riot

We talked to Shlemenko about Fedor, wrestling ten small bears, Manhoef and Pussy Riot

Alexander Shlemenko will one day throw a spinning fist and or kick with such force, he’ll create his own field of gravity. It is known. We’ve been following Storm’s career since he first stepped into the Bellator cage. You know, back when they were on ESPN Deportes, and we’ve loved him passionately ever since. He’s cut from old, Russian cloth, but his stitching is new. He throws more spinning shit than Carlos Condit in a blender, and is easily one of the most exciting fighters to step into a cage today. 

For years we’ve tried to speak to Shlemenko to no avail, but we were finally able to track down Alexander and his translator (who I think was named Vlad, not sure), so we asked him about the new guard in Bellator, potential fights, why he spins like he does and much more. 

How do you feel so far about Scott Coker in Bellator?

It’s a little bit difficult for me to speak about it right now. I personally haven’t felt any changes yet. However I think for me, as a champion, it’s good because I would be able to fight more often because I won’t have to wait for the title contender to win the tournament and then rest and stuff. But once again, we shall see. I think it’s a little bit too early to speak about it right now.

Right, because getting fights in Bellator a few years ago was something that was difficult for you. Are you going to be looking for any fights outside of Bellator now? Is that something that you can do contractually?

For me personally, I love to fight often. So in a perfect world I fight like 5 times per year. At least 4 times. And I know that with the previous management we got along really well and they allowed me to fight outside of the organization. And I think if it would come to that, we would be able to talk to Scott Coker and I would be able to get a chance to fight … for example I really want to fight in Russia. In my home country.

Have you ever trained with Fedor Emelianenko?

No, I haven’t yet, but we’ve planned to do so. I hope sometime in the future we would be able to train together so he would be able to share some of his techniques with me.

Who did you look up to the most when you were coming up fighting? Was it Fedor? Is he basically like the Michael Jordan of fighting in Russia?

Yes it was Fedor, whoever I only saw Fedor first fight in 2005 when I was fighting already. But it was a huge motivation for me because I saw a fellow Russian fighter fighting on the highest stage and being successful so that motivated me, showed me that I could be able to do the same. Prior to that, before I saw the Fedor fight, I watched MMA and I actually enjoyed fights of different fighters. So I can’t say that I have one role model or something, but I really look up to quite a few fighters.

Can you name any of those fighters that really inspired you?

When I was younger, there were two fighters that came from my home city of Omsk. It’s Magomed Mezhdumagomedov and Kavkaz Sultanmagomedov. Later on I started watching videotapes, I enjoyed fighters from the old UFC and PRIDE like Igor Vovchanchyn and Kazushi Sakuraba and Kevin Randleman and Chuck Liddell, and of course I’ve always liked Mike Tyson.

So were you consciously aware of ‘I wanna be the guy who’s gonna throw tons of spinning…stuff’? Like you’re always throwing spinning kicks and spinning backfists. Was that something that you knew you wanted to do? Or do you just feel like it’s a very useful technique?

Well back in the day I always thought that it would look really, really cool if you’d knock somebody out cold with a spinning kick or a spinning backfist. That’s why I tried so many of them. When I was able to land them it was always very effective, so that’s the main reason why I used to use these techniques so much.

What is your favorite vodka?

I do not consume any types of alcoholic drinks and I always tell all my Russian fans and followers to follow in my steps and do the same and try and not have a drop of alcohol.

Is that a personal belief as an athlete or is that religious?

Well it’s a historical fact that Russians never drank. It’s maybe like a hundred or maybe even fifty years ago that politics changed and the country went through like a marketing to consume alcohol. Before that Russians were never known for drinking. That’s why I respect the history of my country and my ancestors and I want my people to return to their origins and be strong.

Fascinating. There’s videos out there of Khabib Nurmagomedov for example wrestling a bear. Have you ever trained or wrestled with Russian bears?

No, I’ve never tried it because in Siberia, where I live, our bears are huge and it’s way too dangerous to wrestle with them.

If you found one that was an appropriate size, would you be interested?

Yes, I wouldn’t mind that.

Alright. Hypothetical question: Would you fight one normal sized bear or ten small bears?

It’s a very difficult question that requires a lot of thinking, but I think ten small ones.

Are you stressed at all about how politics between the U.S. and Russia can affect traveling or getting fights in the U.S. or outside of the U.S.?

Yes, of course I am stressed about it, however I really hope that the sport will stay away and stay aside from politics and that this political situation would not have any impact on our sport.

Putin is obviously a very big combat sports fan. Have you had any interaction with him or does he in any way support MMA through you? Because he obviously has helped many other people. What are your interactions with him and mixed martial arts?

Well I know that Vladimir Putin supports sports in general and that he likes MMA. He and I personally haven’t spoken with him about this, but, from what I know, he supports MMA as well as other sports in Russia.

It seems like you are just a kind of wise, quiet person. What brings this about? What’s the motivation behind you? You seem to really love Russia and, like you said before, you want to bring back the proud history. Where does this come from? I guess my question is: You have a proud sense of nationalism that’s very different from many other Russians today. Where does that come from?

First of all, Russia is my motherland and I’m very proud and very happy that I was born there and that I’m Russian. This comes from my parents, my grandparents, my great-grandparents and it goes back in history. I’m very proud and very happy to be Russian and to represent Russia.

What are your thoughts on the whole P***y Riot issue? With them being arrested and incarcerated?

Well I don’t support them and I think that they should be punished for what they’ve done. Obviously, as all citizens, they should be punished according to the law. Like any other citizens.

You obviously have a ton of fights and you’re still relatively young. Are you going to try and rack up 100 professional fights?

Yes, but I would put it in a different way – I want to make it not a hundred professional fights, but a hundred professional wins.

After fighting Tito Ortiz, did you see the Stephan Bonnar/Tito Ortiz masked man fisco, that brawl in the cage? Did you see that and what were your thoughts on that?

Yes, I saw that, but it was kind of difficult for me to follow it because I have zero idea who this masked man is. But, from what I understood, Stephan Bonnar insulted Tito and I think that any man would do what Tito did in that situation.

Was there mutual respect between you and Tito after your fight?

It’s hard for me to say because I haven’t talked to him after the fight.

OK, and then final question. Obviously you have your title fight coming up this week, and I’m sure you’re not looking past your opponent, however you know that Melvin Manhoef is sitting there waiting for you. Does the potential of that fight motivate you further and excite you? Because that is an incredible fight.

I think that Melvin Manhoef is a legendary fighter, especially in K-1 and kickboxing. If we were to fight it would mean everything to me and it would be a spectacular fight.

If that fight happens, will you want to test your stand-up against Melvin or, Melvin obviously has trouble on the ground, or will you just go for the win as quickly as you can?

I haven’t thought about it yet, but I can say that I’m ready to fight him either standing up or on the ground. It doesn’t matter.
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