The season nine debut of Bellator MMA will take place on September 7th and the fight card will be headlined by a title fight as Alexander Shlemenko will make his first middleweight title defense as he is challenged by season eight tournament winner Doug Marshall.
Bellator officials announced the fight on Friday morning and this card will serve as the live finale of Fight Master.
Along with the title fight, the main card on Spike TV will feature the return of Joe Warren as he faces Nick Kirk in the opening round of the season nine bantamweight tournament.
“This Fall’s season is the most stacked season we’ve ever had and this special Saturday night, 3-hour kick off free on Spike TV is an amazing first act,” Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney said. “This Middleweight World Title fight has fight of the year written all over it. Adding Joe’s return, the Fight Master finale and the opening round of the Middleweight tourney will be an incredible night of fights at Mohegan Sun.”
Shlemenko (47-7) is currently on a ten fight winning streak and won the vacant Bellator middleweight title earlier this year when he defeated Maiquel Falcao at Bellator 88 in February. He won the fight by TKO in the second round and it was his eighth victory in Bellator.
Marshall (18-6) won the Bellator middleweight tournament earlier this year during season eight as he defeated Andreas Spang, Sultan Aliev and Brett Cooper to earn his title shot. He defeated Cooper in the final by first round knockout and four of his last five victories have come by knockout in the first round.
Warren (8-3) dropped down to the bantamweight division permanently late last year after losing the featherweight title to Pat Curran. His last fight took place at Bellator 80 and he defeated Owen Evinger by unanimous decision.
“The Baddest Man on The Planet is back with Bellator, and I’m already counting down the days until September 7th,” Warren said. “I know what it feels like to have that Bellator belt wrapped around your waist, and I want it back. I’ve got Nick Kirk standing in my way to start the tournament, he’s a tough guy but nothing is going to get in my way if it means getting back that belt.”
Kirk (10-2) has lost both of his fights in Bellator and has won three of his last four fights. After losing to Tony Zelinski at Bellator 87 by split decision earlier this year, he defeated Ben Miller by triangle choke submission at Impact Fighting Championship in April. Both of his losses in Bellator came by decision and three of his career wins are by submission.
Bellator 98 will take place on September 7th from the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut and the preliminary card will begin at 6 p.m. ET on Spike.com. The main card broadcast on Spike TV will begin at 8 p.m. ET and it will be a three hour main card. Tickets for the event will be on sale today at Ticketmaster.com or by visiting the Mohegan Sun Box Office, with tickets starting at just $30 dollars.