It's going to be hard to replace Hector Lombard, the beloved Bellator middleweight champion who parted ways with the promotion to join the UFC last year. The Cuban was violence personified, a ball of muscle capable of both spectacular throws and brutal knockouts in equal measure.
Alexander Shlemenko is no Lombard—but the Russian striker, who dispatched with Maiquel Falcao in the second round with brutal ground-and-pound, brings his own arsenal of exciting strikes and spinning techniques to the cage every time he fights. Only 28-years-old, Shlemenko already has more than 50 fights. It was his experience that turned out to be useful against the crafty Brazilian.
Walking out with title gold makes Shlemenko the clear winner of the night. But he's not alone. What's interesting about MMA is that the real winners and losers aren't always as clear cut as you'd expect. It's a sport about more than just victory and defeat.
A fighter can win a bout on paper, but lose the love of the fans or even his own confidence in the process. Likewise, a fighter who gets a check in the loss column can be a secret winner with a hard-fought performance, earning the attention of sponsors, matchmakers and media movers and shakers.
So who were the real winners and losers in Gwinnett, Ga.? Click on to find out.