Shlemenko catches a kick and puts Cooper on the ground after 20 seconds, then invites the American to stand. The champion comes in behind a jab to put another left hand on Cooper’s cheek; Cooper waves Shlemenko forward, then continues to circle the perimeter clockwise. Shlemenko catches another body kick, can’t do anything with it this time. He lands a body kick of his own, then a pair of punches, and Cooper again waves him forward. Cooper ducks in with a short uppercut that draws an arm-raise from the Russian. A spinning back-fist clips Cooper, who recovers before Shlemenko can blitz him on the fence. Cooper tries a double-leg, so Shlemenko rushes to the fence and sprawls, then goes for a front headlock which causes Cooper to relent and stand. A left hook from Cooper sends Shlemenko staggering backward; Cooper tries to walk him down, but Shlemenko catches another kick and slows the attack. Down to the final 30 seconds of the opening round, Cooper scores with another uppercut on the ducking champion. Shlemenko lurches forward to tie up in the last five seconds and gets turned away by a right hand.
Shlemenko is on the offensive early, clipping Cooper with a left hand on the beard. Cooper doesn’t appear fazed, coming back at Shlemenko with leg kicks and trading hands as they work along the outside. Now, Cooper closes in on Shlemenko near the fence, but he can only land a slapping leg kick before the champ circles out. Shlemenko tries another spinning back-fist which goes off Cooper’s gloves. Now bleeding above his left eye, Shlemenko tries to hold Cooper on the fence but can’t keep him there long. Cooper runs him across the cage to land a takedown of his own. Shlemenko gets to all fours, eats a couple punches before Cooper releases. Shlemenko just keeps walking straight at Cooper, then throwing three- or four-punch combinations once they near the fence. Cooper is just absorbing the shots that get through, then circling out. A left hook clips Cooper with 90 seconds left, then a short right hand. Shlemenko is bloodied and breathing heavy but still pressing the action. He turns away a double-leg attempt and slugs Cooper with a right hand, then a partially blocked head kick. Cooper slugs back with a right hand that dazes Shlemenko, who covers up on his feet while Cooper tries to put him away with uppercuts. Shlemenko raises his hands to clown on Cooper, but it’s clear the champion is hurt as he glances up at the big screen to see the final seconds tick down.
After trading kicks, Shlemenko closes in on Cooper and decks him with a big hook before pressing him against the cage. Cooper strikes back with a right and separates himself, but the middleweights soon find themselves on the cage again, Shlemenko on the outside. Cooper comes off and hits a pair of uppercuts, drawing another shrug from Shlemenko, who might be trying to rope-a-dope Cooper in at this point. Shlemenko grabs the Thai clinch and brings Cooper to his knees with a big knee up the middle. A guillotine attempt is quickly abandoned by Shlemenko, who allows Cooper to stand. Cooper gets some space with a right hand, takes a moment and comes back to try a single-leg on the cage. Shlemenko defends and escapes, then moves forward to hit Cooper with a couple knees to the gut. Cooper tries a single, dodges a headlock and switches to a double to finish the takedown. Shlemenko stands after 20 seconds or so, then taps Cooper with a wide right hook. Shlemenko comes in behind a pair of punches and presses Cooper on the fence as the round expires.
Shlemenko sends Cooper to the ground with a big right hand in the first exchange, but the challenger does well to squirm and cover up as Shlemenko tries to pound him out. Cooper seems to have recovered and is back on his feet after 40 seconds, but he’s breathing heavy as Shlemenko moves in to hold him on the fence. Shlemenko backs out and steps away, inviting Cooper to come forward. A body kick lands for Shlemenko, then a right hand grazes for Cooper. Another kick is caught by Shlemenko, and Cooper puts his hands on the ground; Shlemenko takes advantage by driving a hard knee into his challenger’s exposed side. Cooper tries another double-leg, defended well by Shlemenko, who hops across the cage. Shlemenko stands in the center and covers up as Cooper dings him with uppercuts. Another huge left hook sends Cooper tilting to one side; Shlemenko grabs hold and puts him on the cage post for a few seconds before Cooper shoves him away. Another left hand lands for Shlemenko, who turns away a double and hits Cooper with the same hand again. Cooper shoots and is sprawled all over by Shlemenko, who hold Cooper on the ground with a headlock and then releases. Cooper connects with a leg kick inside and Shlemenko misses with five or six punches, but finishes the round with a spinning kick to Cooper’s body.
Shlemenko opens the final round with a left hook-right straight, and he pushes Cooper away with another spinning kick. Cooper wants a single-leg against the fence but is thwarted by the champion. Cooper comes right back for another single, again defended by Shlemenko. The middleweights reset and Cooper lunges with a missed overhand right, countered by a clean Shlemenko left hand. Cooper slaps with a pair of leg kicks outside, the second of which is caught by Shlemenko and used to put Cooper on the cage. They split with three minutes left in the fight and Cooper dives right back in to go for another takedown. Shlemenko stuffs it again, puts a straight left down the middle, a kick on Cooper’s body, then eats a right-handed counter from the challenger. Shlemenko gets a body lock and pulls Cooper to the ground with two minutes to go. Cooper is back on his feet 20 seconds later, taking two hard combinations to the face before being slammed to the canvas again. Cooper walks up the fence to get to his knees, then his feet, but he eats a forearm to the face along the way. Another takedown goes for Shlemenko with 40 seconds on the clock; he stands and dives back down, trying to bomb with punches and put Cooper away, but Shlemenko runs out of time and this one is going to the judges.
THE OFFICIAL RESULT
Alexander Shlemenko def. Brett Cooper via Unanimous Decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47) R5 5:00