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Bellator 162: Shlemenko vs. Grove fight card preview

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Here is the 411 on tonight's Bellator 162 card, including the return of former middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko and professional wrestling superstar Bobby Lashley.

Bellator 162 Bellator MMA

The Viacom variety of MMA will be on display tonight in Memphis, Tennessee as Bellator 162 is set for the return of their former middleweight champion, Alexander Shlemenko, as he faces rangey veteran Kendall Grove in the main event. To add to the excitement surrounding Shlemenko’s return, this Memphis card will also bear witness to 4 heavyweight bouts; including Bobby Lashley in the co-main event. Bellator 162 can be seen tonight, live on Spike TV at 9:00 P.M. EDT with the prelims streaming online.

Main Card: Spike TV at 9:00 P.M. EDT

Alexander Shlemenko (53-9 MMA; 11-3-1 Bellator) vs. Kendall Grove (23-15 MMA; 4-2 Bellator): Middleweight

Following a three-year CSAC suspension, Alexander Shlemenko is set to make his return to U.S. soil on the strength of back-to-back wins on the Russian circuit. Welcoming back Shlemenko, to the U.S. of A., will be Kendall “Da Spyder” Grove, who sports a respectable 4-2 record under the Bellator banner.

Look for Shlemenko to try to make his way to the inside of Kendall Grove’s reach, where the effectiveness of “Da Spyder’s” punches will dissipate, and the former Bellator middleweight champion can more efficiently launch an assault of his own. Will a win over a top Bellator contender like Kendall Grove slingshot Shlemenko right back into title contention?

After successfully stopping both Joey Beltran and Francisco France with strikes in his last 2 outings, you can expect Kendall Grove to want to resume his recent use of his lengthy reach to keep Alexander Shlemenko at the end of his punches. Grove has proved to possess the sort of power required to put fellow middleweights to sleep, but will he be able to dictate the pace of this bout without falling into a Shlemenko style war? With a third consecutive victory inside of the Bellator cage, and with a win over a former champion in Shlemenko, Kendall Grove could position himself to be considered for another shot at Bellator gold.

Bobby Lashley (14-2 MMA; 4-0 Bellator) vs. Josh Appelt (12-5 MMA; 3-1 Bellator): Heavyweight

Professional wrestling superstar Bobby Lashley is slated for his 5th fight in the Bellator promotion as he is in search of his 5th straight finish. Lashley’s Bellator opposition have yet to last for more than 2 rounds against the professional wrestler. An impressive win over Josh “The Juggernaut” Appelt should earn the crossover athlete in Lashley, a shot at one of the top contenders in the Bellator heavyweight division.

Josh Appelt has a big opportunity to get a big win over a big name. Appelt hits hard, comes forward, and in true “Juggernaut” fashion, isn’t afraid to take one to give one. Look for Appelt to want to keep this one standing, by any means necessary, where he has the power to upset the 14-2 Bobby Lashley.

Hisaki Kato (6-2 MMA; 1-1 Bellator) vs. AJ Matthews (8-5 MMA; 4-3 Bellator): Middleweight

Hisaki Kato knocked out world renowned kickboxer, Joe Schilling, not once, but twice. The first meeting was an MMA bout while the second was in a kickboxing affair. Kato has shown the ability to hurt his opponent with a variety of different strikes that his opponents struggle to see coming. A lot still remains a mystery, in terms of MMA capabilities, for Hisaki Kato. In between the Schilling fights, we saw Hisaki Kato get stopped in the first round by violent striker Melvin Manhoef, but also saw Kato quickly KO Yuta Watanabe in Rizin FF. The list of unknowns surrounding Hisaki Kato are only an advantage for him as it leaves room for him to surprise his opponent.

AJ Matthews likes to keep the fight on the feet as he possesses big power in both his punches and kicks. To compliment Matthews’ strength in the struling department, is his willingness to stand in front of opponents and trade. Looking to bounce back after 2 consecutive losses, a big win over Hisaki Kato would be a tremendous boost in the stock of AJ Matthews.

Goiti Yamauchi (19-3 MMA; 5-2 Bellator) vs. Ryan Couture (10-4 MMA; 2-1 Bellator): Lightweight

Young prospect Goiti Yamauchi is set to rebound following a decision loss to Bubba Jenkins at Bellator 151 back in March of this year. Yamauchi has finished 4 out of his 5 Bellator victims, and a win over Ryan Couture will reinforce his status as top lightweight prospect.

Ryan Couture was on a 4 fight strangling streak, as he was passing out RNC’s before ever seeing a round 3. Couture’s streak came to an abrupt halt as he ran into Patricky “Pitbull” Freire at Bellator 148, back in January of this year. Ryan Couture will look to respond to the devastating loss by besting the young gun in Goiti Yamauchi, to find his place in premier MMA.

Prelims: Streaming Online on at 7 PM ET/4 PM PT

Ricky Rainey vs. Gilbert Smith: Welterweight

Steve Garcia vs. Ronnie Lawrence: Bantamweight

Julia Budd vs. Arlene Blencowe: (W) Featherweight

Chase Gormley vs. Bobby Brents: Heavyweight

Eryk Anders vs. Brian White: Middleweight

Dan Charles vs. Virgil Zwicker: Heavyweight

Tyler Hill vs. Wade Johnson: Welterweight

Jonathan Burden vs. James Wallace: Lightweight

Jaleel Willis vs. Omar Johnson: Catchweight of 160 lbs.

Chad Cook vs. Grady Hurley: Heavyweight

Mike Wessel vs. Frank Tate: Heavyweight