Bellator 133 Fight Breakdown: Alexander Shlemenko vs. Melvin Manhoef

Alexander Shlemenko 2 The main event of Bellator 133 is a three-round middleweight bout between Alexander Shlemenko and Melvin Manhoef. According to the current betting lines available at 5Dimes Sportsbook, Shlemenko is a -285 favorite (bet $285 to win $100) while Manhoef is a +225 underdog (bet $100 to win $225). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened up Shlemenko at -180 and Manhoef at +140, and the early action is on the favorite Shlemenko. I lean towards Shlemenko to pick up the win in this one. Here’s why. Shlemenko (51-9) is the former Bellator middleweight champion. The 30-year-old Russian is overall 11-3 in Bellator but he’s lost his last two fights in the promotion, to bigger fighters in Brandon Halsey and Tito Ortiz. There’s no doubt Shlemenko is a talented fighter, but I still think he should be at welterweight where he would match up better with wrestlers. As it stands, Shlemenko is a very dangerous offensive fighter who has won 29 fights by knockout. He is particularly good with his body shots, especially. He does have some submission ability in transitions, but usually doesn’t look to take fights to the ground, instead preferring to stand and bang. He has only one knockout loss in his 60-fight career so he definitely has a good chin, but sometimes he relies on his ability to take a punch too much and it could cost him against Manhoef. Shlemenko is still one of the best middleweights in Bellator, but he desperately needs to get a win here against Manhoef to get back on track. If he was smart he would look to take this fight to the ground, but knowing Shlemenko he will likely stand and bang, and while he does have the better chin and cardio in the matchup, he could also get tagged and knocked out, and he’s a dangerous fighter to bet on in this spot against a powerful striker like Manhoef. Manhoef (29-12-1) is one of the most dangerous strikers in MMA. The 38-year-old native of Suriname has 27 knockout wins to his credit which shows you just how devastating his striking can be. He has very little in regards to wrestling and submissions, but any time an opponent chooses to stand and bang with him they can be knocked out. The problem with Manhoef is he tends to gas after the first round, and at 38 years of age, his chin is giving way. He has been knocked out numerous times in MMA and kickboxing and going up against a guy with knockout power in Shlemenko, it could happen yet again. He also has poor submission defence. Manhoef can win this fight, but he will have to do so early, and if he can’t get the finish and gas will most likely lose in devastating fashion, which is why you see the line where it is. Manhoef can win this fight, but he’ll have to do it in the first round. I think it’s possible he clips Shlemenko and knocks him out, but Shlemenko is a very tough fighter and I think he can overcome the early onslaught and come back to knock Manhoef out in round two or three. Or, if he’s smart, he could take this fight to the ground and go for a submission and win that way. Having said all of that, it’s hard to bet Shlemenko at the current line giving his decline and Manhoef’s knockout ability, but still, all things considered I think Shlemenko is just a better mixed martial artist and should win the fight.

Written by Adam Martin.

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