One champion retained his title and two tournament winners were crowned Friday night as Bellator concluded its ninth season with Bellator 109 in Bethlehem, Penn.
The bout was a back-and-forth brawl until Shlemenko landed the first of his huge body shots, a left hand to the midsection. Marshall survived that and the ensuing flurry, but when a crushing right to the torso dropped him to the mat, referee Dan Miragliotta immediately waved things off.
"Yes this is my game plan," Shlemenko (49-7) said of the body shots. "I beat him, I am the champion. I am the better striker."
Shlemenko, who had his second successful title defense, will face season nine middleweight tourney winner Brennan Ward next.
Rick Hawn (18-2) put his stamp on the welterweight division with a third-round knockout of Ron Keslar (11-3) to win the 170-pound tournament. Keslar won the first round, but Hawn found his feet by the second and really turned things up in the third. A series of uppercuts in close softened Keslar up, and a huge right hook to the jaw settled matters. 55 seconds of the third round was the time of the finish.
With the win, Hawn, a former lightweight tourney winner, joined Pat Curran and Joe Warren as the only fighters to win Bellator tourneys in multiple weight classes. He'll meet Douglas Lima for the title vacated when champion Ben Askren became a free agent.
"I finished him because I had to," Hawn said. "He's a tough guy and he fought a good fight. ... Lima, heal up, let's go buddy. It will be a fun fight."
Will Brooks won the Season 9 lightweight tournament with a dominant victory over Tiger Sarnavskiy. Brooks (13-1), an American Top Team fighter, dominated his Russian opponent throughout with his wrestling, positional control on the mat and big servings of ground-and-pound. Sarnavskiy (25-2) barely withstood a fierce flurry at the end of the second round, and toughed it out to go the distance.
The judges' scores were 30-27, 30-26, and 30-27 for Brooks, who avenged his only career loss to Saad Awad in the semifinals.
Brooks may have to wait for his title shot, as he'll potentially have to wait on an Eddie Alvarez-Michael Chandler trilogy fight, and former tournament winner Dave Jansen is also waiting on a title fight. But for now, Brooks is content to celebrate his win.
"What did I tell you from the start?" Brooks asked. "Michael Chandler, Eddie Alvarez, whatever, I'm coming for you. I can't believe it, I put a lot of work into this from day one when I started to become a mixed martial arts fighter, I wanted to be a champion."
In the main card lightweight opener, British veteran Terry Etim scored a convincing unanimous decision over Patrick Cenoble. The judges scores were 30-27, 30-26, and in inexplicable 29-28. Etim (16-5), fighting for the first time since February, nearly finished the bout in the first round with a choke. He didn't come close to finishing the fight over the remainder of the fight, but Cenoble never got his offense untracked.