Alexander Shlemenko Gave Bellator An Option They Ran With (Exclusive)

Tito Ortiz

Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney referred to the Bellator 120 fight between Tito Ortiz and Alexander Shlemenko as a “freak-show” Friday night.

And he meant it as a good thing.

Rebney, in an exclusive interview with FightLine after Bellator 117, said the pairing of Ortiz with the Bellator middleweight champion “excites him” as an MMA fan.

“The thing I like about it is, even if you have the mindset that Tito is done, (the weight difference) equalizes the playing field,” he said. “Tito walks into the cage between 225-227 (pounds), while Shlemenko walks in at 190. That is a difference you are going to see.

“It’s crazy to think about what would happen. It’s like old-school UFC, where you would have the Sumo guy vs. the karate guy; that weirdness factor. Just think about it, it is entertaining.”

Shlemenko issued the challenge to Ortiz via a video, but he actually informed Rebney of plans to do so prior to the release. That was great news to his ears, as he admitted he was trying to “make something compelling” as far as a fight for Ortiz to compete again.

“Shlemenko shows up at my house and said, ‘I want to fight Tito,’” Rebney said. “I said, ‘Wow, that’s a great idea.’ He told me he was going to put (this video out) and I thought, alright, let’s see how this all plays out.

“It was cool that it worked.”

Ortiz hasn’t fought since 2012 when he lost to Forrest Griffin in his “retirement” match from the UFC. He was scheduled to return to action late last year, but a neck injury knocked him out. Shlemenko won his 50th career fight earlier this year when he defeated Brennan Ward.

“Tito has the legacy, Shlemenko is riding a 13-fight win streak,” Rebney said, “and looks like one of the most dangerous middleweights on the Earth.”

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