Alexander Shlemenko, Bryan Baker Advance at Bellator 50

Bryan Baker

Rogers, Vianna also move to middleweight tournament semifinals

The main card at Bellator 50 was comprised of the opening round of the middleweight tournament, and it did not disappoint.

In a bout that was expected to be a grueling slugfest, Russian striker Alexander Shlemenko submitted Zelg Galesic with a nasty standing guillotine at 1:55 of the opening round. A kickboxer known for his frequent use of spinning attacks, Shlemenko earned a submission win for just the fourth time in his last 19 victories.

Strikeforce veteran Brian Rogers followed up Shlemenko’s impressive performance with one of his own, needing just one second more to stop former TUF hopeful Victor O’Donnell. Though O’Donnell protested the stoppage and appeared to still be fighting back when the referee stepped in to stop the fight, the victory puts Rogers through to the semifinals, and extends his streak of first round finishes to seven.

Bellator veterans Bryan Baker and Jared Hess met in the main event, and the best pairing of the opening round did not disappoint. The two traded close submission attempts during a very close first round, then spent a good part of the second round battling on the canvas in an entertaining wrestling match.

Hess, fighting for just the second time since suffering a gruesome knee injury against Shlemenko two years ago, wore down as the fight progressed, while Baker was able to maintain his pace. That proved to be the difference in the end, as Baker once again brought the fight to the floor, secured back mount and pounded out the victory.

In the opening bout of the tournament, Brazilian veteran and Wand Fight Team member Vitor Vianna edged out Sam Alvey by split decision.

Next up for Bellator is the opening round of the bantamweight tournament, headlined by featherweight champ Joe Warren taking on unbeaten Cuban Olympian Alexis Villa.