Later in the round, he appreciated two left hooks to the body even less.
Shlemenko (49-7) defended the Bellator 185-pound title for a second time Friday, finishing Marshall via TKO at 4:28 of the first round. The title fight headlined Bellator 109 inside Sands Casino Event Center in Bethlehem, Pa.
After Shlemenko shot in on a takedown within the first 10 seconds of the fight, Marshall (18-7) shook his head at the crowd as if to show Shlemenko feared his punching power. The Russian champion begged to differ once the fight was over.
"I am a striker as well as Doug Marshall is a striker," said Shlemenko, through an interpreter. "I just strike much harder than he does. I am a better striker."
To his credit, Marshall popped to his feet immediately after Shlemenko's early takedown. He did so again later in the round, when Shlemenko scored a clean double leg in the center of the cage.
Marshall, 36, was active when given the opportunity. He landed several hard inside leg kicks on Shlemenko and backed off the Russian at one point with a stiff, short right from the clinch.
It was the body punching of Shlemenko, however, that proved too much for Marshall. A left hook to the midsection buckled the challenger's knees late in the round.
Shlemenko must have seen it, because he went back with another one that crumpled Marshall along the fence with under a minute left in the frame. Referee Dan Miragliotta immediately waved off the bout, seeing Marshall's reaction to the shot.
"That is my favorite move, a little shot," Shlemenko said. "I am champion.""
The 29-year-old Shlemenko extended his win streak to 12. He has now recorded 29 knockout victories in his career. His last loss came via decision in a Bellator title fight against Hector Lombard in October 2010.
Hawn rallies to finish Keslar
Eighteen months after winning the Bellator lightweight tournament, Rick Hawn has won the promotion's season nine welterweight tournament.
This time, he hopes it leads to a Bellator title.
Hawn (18-2) scored a devastating knockout over Ron Keslar to earn a shot at the vacant 170-pound title. Referee Dan Miragliotta called the bout 55 seconds into the third round.
The final sequence saw Hawn land a big overhand right that appeared to have Keslar (11-4) somewhat out on his feet. Keslar attempted to survive, but Hawn continued to land with the jab before landing a walk-off knockout right hand.
"He took a few shots," Hawn said. "I thought he was going down. I just kept chipping away until I finally got him."
The fight didn't all go Hawn's way. A well-placed knee by Keslar dropped Hawn in the opening minute of the bout. A heavy underdog, Keslar swarmed him with punches and, once Hawn made it back to his feet, knees to the midsection.
Hawn recovered well in the next two rounds, however. He began to pick Keslar apart with an accurate jab and hurt him several times with the right hand. By the third round, every bit of momentum had transferred to Hawn's corner.
"He was kicking my ass in the first round," Hawn said. "It was do-or-die time. He's a tough guy. A big, big dude. I had to turn it up."
A 2004 U.S. Olympian in Judo, Hawn fought for the Bellator 155-pound title in January, but came up short in a second-round submission loss to Michael Chandler. He has strung together four consecutive wins since that loss, including two finishes.
Brooks cruises in lightweight tournament final
Few fighters have been as busy as Will Brooks in 2013 -- or as successful.
Brooks (13-1) recorded his fifth win of the year in a dominant unanimous decision over Alexander Sarnavskiy. The victory crowned Brooks the winner of this season's Bellator lightweight tournament and awards him a future title shot at 155 pounds.
"What did I tell you from the start?" Brooks said. "I'm going to be simple, effective and devastating. I think I did that the entire tournament.""
The Illinois native flashed a versatile game plan in his finals win, while still relying on his bread and butter wrestling and ground and pound tactics. Sarnavskiy (25-2) was relatively helpless to stop any of it. All three judges scored the fight a shutout.
Brooks appeared confident on his feet from the start. He landed a hard leg kick and a left uppercut at the end of a combination. After Sarnavskiy wrestled to his feet following the fight's first takedown, Brooks landed knees in the clinch.
He wasted little time taking Sarnavskiy down in the second round and nearly earned a finish with elbows and punches from the back. By the start of the third, it was clear some of the fight had been taken out of Sarnavskiy, as Brooks pushed him backwards with front kicks and scored a quick takedown.
It was easy work for Brooks from there, as he trapped Sarnavskiy against the fence and landed a string of unanswered left hands. The Russian's face was beaten and bloodied by the end of the fight.
Brooks, who avenged the only loss of his career to Saad Awad in the tournament semifinals, expressed confidence when it came to Bellator's elite lightweights.
"I've been putting a lot of work into this," Brooks said. "Since day one, I've made sacrifices. I'm here now, and I'm going to keep it going."
Etim bests Cenoble in Bellator debut
Those were the facts following a slow, one-sided decision victory for Etim (16-5) in his Bellator debut. The British submission specialist blatantly won every round although one judge somehow scored 29-28, to go along with scorecards of 30-27 and 30-26.
Cenoble (9-3-1) knew going in Etim would want the fight on the ground, but he proved incapable of defending the shot. He was on his back within the first minute of every round and managed to work to his feet only once.
Despite dominating Cenoble on the floor, Etim failed to produce a finish. He hunted for a rear-naked choke late in the first round and again in the third. Cenoble maintained his composure in some sticky spots with Etim latched onto his back. In terms of producing offense, however, his moments were few and far between.
With 30 seconds remaining in the fight, Cenoble turned into Etim on the floor and finished throwing punches from top position. Time ran out quickly on the 24-year-old, though, and the round clearly belonged to Etim.
A former UFC lightweight, Etim snaps a two-fight losing streak. It's his first win by decision since outpointing Sam Stout in October 2008. All four of his victories since have come via submission. Cenoble falls to 1-3-1 in his last five bouts.