Tito Ortiz vs. Alexander Shlemenko: Full Head-to-Toe Breakdown
On Saturday night, Bellator will have its first-ever pay-per-view, featuring an interim lightweight title fight, a light heavyweight grudge match between Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal and a special light heavyweight matchup between former UFC champion Tito Ortiz and current Bellator middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko.
Ortiz came out of retirement to join Bellator and last fought Forrest Griffin at UFC 148 in July 2012.
Shlemenko comes into this fight following a second-round submission victory to defend his middleweight title.
Let's take a look at who has the edge in this fight.
Alexander Shlemenko is known primarily as a striker. He prefers to go for the knockout and told CagePages, "I will use my strength and power, and speed to win this fight."
That's a pretty clear game plan for Shlemenko.
That being said, Ortiz was never known as a striker and was always much more of a grappler. Nevertheless, he's confident of pummeling Shlemenko, telling MMAJunkie radio, "He's going to beat up his face with my fists."
Tito Ortiz was always known as a ground-and pound-fighter. That was his thing.
Unfortunately, that was years ago.
Shlemenko prefers to strike but does have an impressive ground game, having trained with Chael Sonnen, BJ Penn, Mark Munoz and others.
In Ortiz's last fight, Forrest Griffin stuffed the majority of his takedowns. Shlemenko should have no trouble doing the same.
Ortiz only has two submission wins in his career. One was against Ryan Bader in 2011, and the other was way back in 2000. He did have a great submission attempt against Rashad Evans in 2011, but that's about it.
Shlemenko has eight wins by submission, including his most recent title defense, where he used a second-round guillotine choke to put away Brennan Ward.
Shlemenko: The worst part of this fight for Shlemenko is that he's stepping up in weight. He is three inches shorter and will have a three-inch reach disadvantage. Aside from that, he has more total fights (57) and more fights in Bellator, and he's only 29 years old.
Ortiz: The biggest factor is going to be how Ortiz comes back after two years out of the cage. If he comes back better than before, he may end up with a grappling edge and pull out a win. If he looks like someone who hasn't fought in two years, he's going to be a rough night. He has to hope he can land some solid ground-and-pound. Just remember: no elbows on the ground in Bellator.
Alexander Shlemenko has a clear edge in essentially every facet of this fight. He is younger, has more fights, has fought more recently and is in his prime.
Ortiz is coming out of retirement, and let's not forget that in his last nine fights, he went 1-7-1. This doesn't look good for him.
This will be the fight where Ortiz's chin shows its age, and he'll go down pretty quickly.
Prediction: Alexander Shlemenko wins by first-round knockout