Alexander Shlemenko is Bellator’s season 5 middleweight tournament winner, and his only loss in the promotion is to Hector Lombard. That being considered, perhaps you will excuse him for accusing war hero Brian Stann of faking injuries to avoid Lombard:
“I can tell you for sure, 100%, I know why there are so many injuries. I personally find UFC fights not as exciting because of all those injuries. There are a lot of background tactics around who’s fighting who; fighters are trying really hard to have a good record in the UFC. If you’ve been offered to fight someone who’s considered a bad match-up, then it’s pretty easy to say ‘hey, I’m injured’.”
“For example, they offered Brian Stann to fight Hector Lombard. He got injured, and then the next thing you know – he’s fighting Michael Bisping. I can see the logic – for Brian Stann it makes more sense to fight Bisping, he’s simply more popular in the UFC than Hector Lombard. That’s why beating Bisping means more than beating Lombard, who’s a risky opponent.”
“You can fake every injury. Just tell [UFC doctors] about the symptoms and that’s it.”
This is one of those stories that sounds right because it makes logical sense on the surface and goddamnit we’re still looking for a satisfying place to hang all the injury blame. Why wouldn’t a fighter just fake an injury to get out of a shitty matchup? Well … the risk of getting found out and your professional career ruined comes to mind. Dana White just crucified Shogun for daring to turn down a fight with some guy, so imagine what he’d do to someone suspected of faking an injury?
You also can’t just ‘tell UFC doctors about the symptom and that’s it.’ They check you out and diagnose whatever is actually wrong with you. In Brian Stann’s case, it was a grade-two separation of his right AC shoulder joint. Either you have that or you don’t, there’s not a lot of room for fakery there. Maybe Shlemenko thinks Brian hurt himself on purpose, like Rory MacDonald totally did?
That’s not to say there’s never a suspicious case of spontaneous fight-cancelling injury. A lot of people’s eyebrows raised when Rampage agreed to fight Shogun and then decided two days later he’d take on double-knee surgery instead. And Anderson Silva’s tennis elbow seems to flare up whenever the UFC can’t find an opponent he’s excited to face.
In the end, though, the UFC aren’t idiots. They’re a bunch of shrewd motherfuckers with the kind of finely tuned BS detectors you only develop in a town as scammy as Las Vegas. If you told me a few guys had pulled off a fake injury to get out of a bad fight, I could believe it. In the same way I could believe a few people may have escaped from Alcatraz over the years. But as a systematic thing? Yeah right.