An unfortunate hand injury has caused a late shakeup to Bellator's upcoming Season 9. After being slated to face current middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko in the main event at Bellator 98, Doug Marshall has been replaced by Brett Cooper after suffering a broken hand. The promotion announced the switch Monday:
Cooper initially lost out on the title opportunity after suffering a first-round KO to Marshall at Bellator 95 in the Bellator Season 8 Middleweight Tournament Final in April. Although Shlemenko already claims a decision victory over Cooper from their May 2011 bout at Bellator 44, the new challenger believes he'll have the edge this time around.
"My goal has always been the same, get the belt," Cooper said. "I'm always making improvements and this is an incredible opportunity I'm not going to pass up. When we fought in 2011, it was an absolute war, and I've grown into a much different fighter over the last few years. I'm 26 years old, and this is my time to take the next step."
The shakeup has also caused a bit of a ripple effect throughout the card as Cooper's original opponent, Andreas Spang, now faces the undefeated Justin Torrey. Additionally, Jeremy Kimball will replace Dan Cramer to face Perry Filkins in this season's middleweight tournament.
Bellator 98 takes place Sept. 7, 2013 from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The event begins with the preliminary card streamed live on Spike.com at 6:00 EST. The night's main card broadcasts live on Spike TV at 8:00 EST.
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