Interview with Alexander Shlemenko
Blood & Sweat offers you an exclusive interview with the middleweight champion Bellator title challenger, the Russian fighter Alexander Shlemenko (46-7), in which, among other things, Alexander shared his recipe for success, explained why he did not leave Omsk and gave an assessment to contactless combat.
- Sasha, soon you have to argue for the title of Bellator with Mikel Falcao. Admit it, have you already found any weak points in his technique or strategy?
- It seems to me that he is not a particularly fast drummer, but he beats hard. I hope I hit harder (smiles). In general, he is handsome, you will not say anything - he fought hard in the middle weight and even there he knocked out his rivals.
- At the seminar organized by Blood & Sweat in Moscow, you demonstrated your approach to the percussion technique. Tell me how you came to your style in MMA?
- I think that I already have quite a rich competitive and coaching experience in MMA. The success of my students is proof of this. Plus, I very much analyze the technique of the best MMA fighters in the world, since sport never stands still. Thanks to the internet (smiles).
Each duel, where the fighter won a victory with some kind of new technique, I skip through myself, check for myself and use it in my duels. I consider my approach effective, as I can answer for all my actions. Why? Because I personally tried it in the ring, unlike many "theorists". So in my seminars, I tell already proven things.
- How do you think, why there is a whole cohort of charlatans around the so-called "contactless battle"?
- The fact is that few people can constantly endure pain, get on the face, get tired, work at the limit of their strength. It so happened that in Russia there are few such people, but it pleases that they are. The rest often want to become superheroes and one glance to sweep all the way. From here and popularity of all these "contactless".
Everything seems simple in them, and almost nothing needs to be done. This is a dream that many believe. Such people simply do not want to overcome their laziness, to make themselves stronger through hard training. But this can not do without. If you want to learn how to fight, then you need to go to the gym and train. No arguing - train at home, with your hands, there are a lot of training videos that the fighters post to the network.
- It seems that you have the same attitude to charlatans in martial arts.
- I generally treat the charlatans very badly, and those who teach martial arts, also inhibit their development with their activities and spoil the impression from people. I think this phenomenon needs to be eradicated. Moreover, their experience is now very easy to check. If a person says that he is a world champion in "fights without rules", a world champion in K-1, then you can immediately go to the Internet from your phone and check his words. If on specialized sites there is nothing about him, then everything becomes clear.
Many such charlatans love to say that they were taught to kill, and they are afraid to use their supertechnique. I think such people should be simply avoided, otherwise you can go to them all your life and never reach their level, because they simply do not exist, and all of you will only be draining money.
- Let's go to Falcao. In the final match of the Grand Prix with Andreas Spang, he moved from strike technique to fight. Will you be ready for such a development if he repeats this maneuver?
- When I fought with Hector Lombard, I was not ready for the partner. Now I am ready for any battle scenario, even I myself am ready to transfer the battle to the ground.This does not mean that I will not try to knock out an opponent, I just became a more versatile fighter.
- In light of this, the question arises: how tightly are you practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? Do you train in kimono?
- I speak without a kimono, so I see no reason to conduct training in it. I think this is all nonsense. I treat Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with respect, but I prefer grappling, as it seems to me that it suits our sport better.
- Recently you, in fact, lived in the USA, preparing for your battles. What is the most important thing you learned from the time spent in the States?
- The main thing is that I was able to work with good sparring partners - Mark Muñoz, Jake Ellenberger, Michael Bisping. I realized that I was able to resist such fighters and there is nothing supernatural about them. Many people on the Internet describe that these are monsters, murderers, and in fact they are simple people. The only thing that distinguishes them from others is that they are not lazy, but go to the gym and train.
- Which of the American fighters, with whom you stood in a pair, had the hardest hit?
- It is difficult to say, because in sparring nobody beats in full force.
- And then who is the toughest sparring?
- I would paraphrase. Who tries the hardest to spar. That fighter is Vanderlei Silva. When you stand with him in a pair, he is constantly trying to deliver a strong blow, knock out. I was lucky as if he didn’t hit me, but he tried to beat me up in full force.
Brazilians are generally the toughest to sparring, although I do not see the point. Maybe because they are trying to remove competitors around them? Otherwise it is difficult to explain why during the sparring they break the rules, work with their knees or elbows in the head, try to injure their partner. I do not blame all Brazilians, but those who violated and did so were precisely those who were born in Brazil.
- Why did you often choose the Muyos Reign Training Center in preparation for the latest fights?
- The choice of the hall of Mark Munoz was due to the fact that I consider him one of the best fighters in MMA and wanted to tighten the defense against the fight. Of course, he is not the strongest fighter in the world, and in Dagestan we are stronger than him, but they are not MMA fighters. Their experience is not suitable for our sport. Muñoz also works a lot on mistakes and highlights those techniques that are more suited to mixed martial arts.I think this choice went to me and the team only in favor.
- Share the experience gained in the West, do they use any shells that we don’t have?
- Octagon, cage - the main projectile, which is not me and my team. There are also special devices for the development of physical qualities, but it seems to me that in Moscow and St. Petersburg, where there are many wealthy people, such things have already appeared.
And for myself I can say that much of this inventory can be made from improvised means. For example, the same push carts can be welded quite easily by yourself. In general, in America, the MMA industry is developing much faster, and all the most advanced they appear earlier.
- Like a professional athlete, you occasionally have injuries. What do you think about the level of our sports medicine?
- I don’t like to talk about injuries, but I would like to warn mothers who are afraid to send their children to sports because of this. There are injuries, but sport is not dangerous. It's a delusion. Most of my injuries are domestic. Take at least a broken collarbone. I got it, got into an accident. By the way, if I didn’t play sports and couldn’t properly group, then the consequences would be worse and I would recover longer.
And about medicine, I want to say that lately there has appeared a bit too much charlatans. Thank God that I talk with doctors a little. I do not want to talk about everyone, as there are talented people who save lives, do extremely complex operations, but there are few of them.
Need to engage in self-education. Before a visit to the doctor, it is advisable to collect as much information as possible about the illness or injury, and check the consistency of the doctor on the spot. Very often, when I ask the doctor to explain what the problem is, he begins to freak out, shout, say that he has great experience and a lot of experience, but he cannot explain what really happened.
After all, I ask a simple question - why put such a diagnosis? For example, if a person approaches me and asks: “Why do you teach me this way and not in another way?”, I will explain to him, but I will not shout that he doubts me. A good coach will never be offended when you ask him to explain something. He will not scream and freak out: “As I said, just do it,” he will explain everything to you. Doctors often diagnose without explanation.
Also, doctors often ask me a question: “Why do you go in for sports?”. As if I came for his advice.At the same time, they say that I should not engage in fighting, otherwise I will be disabled. In America, this is not. At least they didn't tell me that. Maybe because I went to those doctors who deal with injuries of the fighters, but still they explained very well why I was given a definite diagnosis. It seems to me that people there are more devoted to their work, so they have a good result.
- But the prices there bite?
- Yes, but they have a health insurance system. For example, my Bellator insurance covers all costs of recovery and treatment. I do not argue, without a policy, treatment flies in a pretty penny, but here in Russia we are all insured, but for some reason this does not work.
- We know that besides physical and tactical training, you also psychologically adjust your students to fights. Tell us how your coaching experience was formed?
- In the past, I had a negative experience when I listened to American coaches. I do not want to justify myself for the defeat of Lombard, but I think I made a mistake then. Previously, I always prepared independently, and here I trusted American masters. As a result, was not quite properly prepared tactically.But even here I was mostly to blame myself, since my decision was to trust these specialists.
Now I myself fulfill the duties of a coach. As I already said, I take a great interest in medicine, but besides this, psychology. I'm trying to combine all this. Now, even if I go to the USA, I train by my own method. Many believe that if you come to America, you will become the strongest fighter and you will win all. This is absolutely not true. We are going there with the team in the first place, to get acclimatized, and secondly, to fight with the American fighters, which everyone considers to be supermen, and understand that they are ordinary fighters, like us.
“Falcao is not superman, but he has a dark past - banditry, underground fights with almost no rules, a gunshot wound ... Does the meeting with such a character scare you?”
- Yes, not at all! I myself am from the criminal district.
- In which you still continue to live, although you have long been able to afford to change not only the district, but also the city or even the country. Why didn't you change your place of residence?
- Because I want to help the place where I grew up. I want to change something around me. It seems to me that everyone is able to do it.Just take and leave, thinking only about yourself - this is a weakness. Someone will say that you need to think only about your ass and about where you are warm and good. I was raised wrong. I want to help the same guys as me.
I grew up in the area of Moskovka. Those who are growing up there now go to the same school as me. I do not want them to repeat the mistakes of my comrades, who are no longer with us. Many of my peers have died from alcohol or drugs, but I’m only 28 years old. This is really scary. It is difficult for those who are 16 to understand this, but this is a real threat to their future, but I want them to be strong, beautiful and healthy.
- You said that you like the work of the Grotto group, which often brings up sharp social themes in its songs. Did you manage to communicate with members of this team?
- Before I met this group, I had a negative attitude towards Russian rap. I thought, and I was told that rap is the culture of the black regions of America, and in the songs they sing only about how cool to get drunk and smoke. After talking with the guys from the "Grotto" I realized that this was not the case. They share my attitude to a healthy lifestyle. We agreed a lot. I can say that their songs are vital and teach good.
- Our government wants to introduce a law that will tighten the punishment in the case of the use of force by professional athletes. How do you feel about this?
- This is another idiocy that our deputies want to introduce. Simply, the majority of deputies and their children to the sport are indirectly related. At the same time, their children are very well "smeared."
Any athlete who trains and strives to achieve more is great. He is not born with the skills to kill. He learns how to win in competitions, and not how to kill people, unlike the military. Therefore, equating his skills with weapons is utter idiocy and stupidity.
There are a lot of just healthy, big guys who are not related to sports, but if they hit you or just hit you, they can kill. Why not adopt a law regarding them too? That is, if you are an athlete, weighs about 60 kilograms, and hit a 90-pound man who does not train, then you can be seated?
Why not apply such a law to people who served in the army? They are all studying hand-to-hand combat, so let us include them in this law. In general, this measure is stupid and wrong.If this stupid law is adopted, then I will once again be disappointed in power.
- Once again, after what?
- Well, for example, the struggle with bad habits. In our country there are special bodies, people who receive money for allegedly trying to discourage young people from drinking alcohol and tobacco. But I do not like how we have it delivered.
Many say that you can not drink and smoke, but at the same time they themselves smoke and drink. I do not understand how they can say one thing, but to show another by their example. Unlike them, if I say that you can not drink and smoke, it means they will never see me with a bottle of beer or a cigarette.
- We received information that you recently began to actively promote a healthy lifestyle among children and adolescents.
- Unfortunately, I myself have no opportunity to constantly organize meetings with children, but last summer I had one such meeting with difficult, as I was told, teenagers. I did not notice anything difficult in them. Good guys who are just at the beginning of their journey. Of course, most of them have already tried alcohol, but they just need to be sent in the right direction and everything will be fine.It seems to me that I managed to contribute to this.
- Perhaps in the light of this you could tell our young readers any instructive story?
- I will not remember the story immediately, but I can give a hint, a kind of key to success. Guys, no alcohol, tobacco or drugs. Believe in yourself and do not be afraid of anyone. Well, the "star" do not grab. Star disease does not lead to anything good. In its time I had its beginnings, and this led to defeats.
- How can you recognize star disease in the early stages and overcome it?
- It is very easy to recognize - you start to behave arrogantly, you consider yourself better than others, the strongest. In your mistakes, losses, blame other people, not yourself. This immediately entails poor preparation for battles, since you do not see the true reasons for your failures.
- Let's finish the interview with the UFC topic. Fans really want to see you there, but you are still adamant. What terms of the contract can be insurmountable for you?
- My manager is engaged in my manager Alexey Zhernakov, and this is more a question for him. I will not say loud phrases. It is clear that behind me stands my country, my city, and I defend their honor.But do not forget that I am a professional fighter, and the material side has not been canceled. The state does not support us, and many fans who want us to speak somewhere, as soon as the question touches financial support, immediately calm down.
Of course, I want to fight the strongest fighters, but now I have a contract with Bellator. I can not just break it and go to another organization. I have to finish it to the end. I can’t leave after that either simply, because they have done a lot for me - they have invested money and have unwound it. After two Grand Prix won, I finally started talking about me in Russia, although I had more than 30 fights behind me.