Bjorn Rebney believes that Alexander Shlemenko is a top five middleweight

Alexander Shlemenko retained the Bellator middleweight title on Friday night at Bellator 109 as he defeated season eight tournament winner Doug Marshall by knockout in the first round.

Raffaele Mortillaro - The MMA Report
Raffaele Mortillaro – The MMA Report

This was his second successful title defense since winning the vacant title earlier this year and he has now won twelve in a row.

He also becomes the first Bellator middleweight champion to make more than one successful title defense and holds the Bellator middleweight record for most wins at ten.

During the post fight press conference, Bellator MMA Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney raved about the performance of Shlemenko and the new tools he showed against Marshall.

“An amazing, talented fighter,” Rebney said. “You saw some of the aspects of his game that you never get to see. You saw takedowns today, that you have never seen from Shlemenko before. Just an amazing performance. Incredible body shots and great performance.”

Along with raving about his performance, Rebney believes that Shlemenko is one of the best middleweight fighters in the world and he believes he is top five.

“Literally, I think is one of the best middleweights we have in MMA today. Slowly but surely, people are starting to see it. Slowly but surely, people are putting him where he belongs, which I believe is top five in the world.”

Before tonight, Shlemenko was not listed in the top ten of middleweight rankings on Sherdog, MMA Junkie, ESPN or Fight Matrix. He is listed under receiving votes in the Sherdog and ESPN rankings, #14 in MMA Junkie, and #13 in Fight Matrix rankings.

Rebney is a promoter and he is going to promote fighters that fight in his organization. This is not the first time he has talked about one of his fighters being one of the top fighters in their weight class. He has mentioned this about Eddie Alvarez, Michael Chandler, Ben Askren, Pat Curran, and Eduardo Dantas in the past.

Shlemenko is a top ten to fifteen fighter in the world and he may be hard for him to get above that due to the competition. His next title defense will be against Brennan Ward, who is an unranked fighter. Rebney will have to build up some new middleweight contenders or sign a fighter that exits the UFC to help build the case that Shlemenko is one of the best middleweight fighters in the world.

The better debate with Shlemenko is whether he is the best middleweight fighter that is not currently in the UFC. Most people will likely say that Yushin Okami is the best middleweight fighter outside of the UFC, but he is 3-3 in his last six fights.