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Amid COVID-19 pandemic, former Bellator champ Alexander Shlemenko sets sights on UFC gold

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The former Bellator champ revealed his main goal is to sign with the UFC.

MMA: OCT 19 Bellator 185 - Weigh-In Photo by Williams Paul/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

During his time in quarantine, Alexander Shlemenko has had time to consider his mixed martial arts future, which he believes will take place in the UFC.

Speaking to Championat, the former Bellator middleweight champion revealed that his primary goal is to sign with the UFC and become champion, “I have a great desire to get into the UFC, and I’m already halfway there. I have not signed a contract with any organization now just because of one goal - to get into the UFC and take the title. I believe in myself, everything will work out.”

Shlemenko, who began his MMA career in 2004, was Bellator middleweight champion between 2013-14 until he lost the title to Brandon Halsey at Bellator 126. He has since fought at various Russian promotions, including M-1 Global and Russian Cage-fighting Championship (RCC). He won the M-1 Global Grand Prix Middleweight Final and has won three of his last four fights with RCC, including a submission win against David Branch in his most recent fight in December 2019.

The native of Omsk, Russia was scheduled to meet Louis Taylor at an RCC event in March before the event was canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. While he still plans to accept that fight when the promotion starts up again in the future, he refuses to sign a long-term deal just in case the UFC comes calling.

“Now I have not renewed the contract, although they offered gorgeous conditions. If I chose money, as in 2010, I would not leave. But I did a hard job to get rid of the contract. Now I am completely free.”

However, Shlemenko is also aware that COVID-19 may have halted any plans to join the leading MMA promotion in the foreseeable future.

“There was a desire to join the UFC this year, but the pandemic confused the cards. Now many people will be left without work, as well as the fighters, too.”