The departure of Hector Lombard from Bellator to the UFC left the Bellator middleweight title vacant, but those days of having no champion are coming to a close. The promotion announced Friday a middleweight title bout between Alexander Shlemenko and Maiquel Falcao for February 7 from Georgia's The Arena at Gwinnet Center. The bout and planned Bellator 88 event will be broadcast on Spike TV.
Shlemenko, 28, is the Bellator season 5 middleweight tournament winner. He defeated Zelg Galesic, Brian Rogers and Vitor Vianna all in the aforementioned 2011 tournament to earn his title shot. Shlemenko has gone 3-0 in other promotions while waiting for a title shot.
Falcao, 31, is the season 6 Bellator middleweight tournament winner. The Brazilian defeated Norman Paraisy, Vyacheslav Vasilevsky and Andres Spang all in 2012 to capture the tournament title and earn a shot at the middleweight belt.
Now in the UFC, Lombard was the Bellator middleweight champion through Bellator 58 in November 2011, but vacated the title to sign with the Zuffa-owned organization. He made his UFC debut in July of this year, losing a split decision to Tim Boetsch.
In addition to Shlemenko vs. Falcao title fight, Bellator 88 will also play host to the opening round of the next featherweight tournament.