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Former Bellator champ Alexander Shlemenko signs with M-1 Global

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Former Belltor middleweight champion Alexander Shlemeno signed with M-1 Global and will debut on Feb. 19 at M-1 Challenge 64 in Moscow.

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Former Bellator middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko will compete in Russia next month under the M-1 Global banner.

Shlemenko will meet former M-1 middleweight champion and fellow Bellator veteran Vyacheslav Vasilevsky on the M-1 Challenge 64 show in Moscow. The two will meet in the semi-final of the recently announced Grand Prix tournament over the coming months.

BloodyElbow confirmed the news with M-1 Global officials.

Despite a doping suspension in effect in California, which denied him any opportunities to fight in the United States over the coming three years, Shlemenko opted to fight in his native land and signed on with M-1 Global after shopping around with several promotions.

According to sources close to the former champion, M-1 Global and Bellator reached an amicable agreement to allow Shlemenko to compete under their banner in Russia.

Shlemenko (51-9) tested positive for a banned substance in 2015, which was later revealed to be an elevated testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio of 50:1 due to the steroid oxandrolone and oxandrolone metabolites. However, Shlemenko's attorney's main case is that his client's B-Sample was not tested, which is an alleged violation of the agreement with the UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory in Los Angeles.

After being fined $10,000 and suspended for three years for a positive drug test, many believed that Alexander Shlemenko would take the opportunity to compete in Russia, where he is a native of Omsk. It is now official.

M-1 Challenge 64 takes place in Moscow, Russia and features a heavyweight title fight between former Bellator champion Alexander Volkov and Denis Smoldarev in the main event.