Bellator 77 Preview – Lightweight Quarterfinals

MTV2 plays host to the quarterfinal round of Bellator’s Season 7 Lightweight Tournament. The 8-man field features a mix of veterans and highly regarded prospects from around the globe. In order to claim the tournament prize of $100,000 and a guaranteed title shot against either current champion Michael Chandler or last season’s tournament winner Rick Hawn one of the eight participants will have to win three fights over the next three months. Here’s a closer look at tonight’s card.

Ranked as the top prospect at 155 coming out of Russia Alexander “Tiger” Sarnavskiy (20-0) returns to the U.S., this time facing a veteran with more than 3 times the experience, Rich Clementi.

Clementi picked up his first win inside of the Bellator cage earlier in the year when he tapped Derek Campos late in the first. Rich enters the tournament after going 3-1 in his last four outings, prospect or not Clementi feels that experience will take him far in the series.

Only 22 years old Sarnavskiy has already become one of the hottest prospects in the sport, amassing an unbeaten 20-0 record in just four years as a professional. Critics would say that “Tiger” has not faced high quality opposition in his career thus far. The opportunity to silence his doubters looked like it would come late last year when
Sarnavskiy was expected to face former Jungle Fight champ Francisco Trinaldo at M-1 Challenge 30, the fight never materialized however due to an injury to Trinaldo who then moved on to the UFC.

Alexander hopes to find the same success as teammates Andrey Koreshkov and Michael Tsarev who have already moved on in Bellator’s welterweight series.

BJJ World Champion Rene Nazare returns to the tournament format tonight. Nazare began his career with the organization by stopping his first three opponents in impressive fashion, he has since dropped his last two bouts and needs to get back on track with a statement win over fellow BJJ black belt, Ricardo Tirloni. Tirloni has only tasted defeat twice in his 16 fight career, a submission loss to UFC champ Ben Henderson in just his fourth professional fight and Rick Hawn earlier this year. On paper this fight looks like more of a ground battle but don’t be surprised if these ground specialists choose to bang.

Poland’s Marcin Held is no stranger to Bellator but faces stiff competition tonight. The 20 year old ground specialist made his promotional debut in the season 4 155 pound tournament where he faced eventual winner and current champion Michael Chandler in the first round. Since that point Held has gone on a three fight win streak including a closely contested decision victory over Phillipe Nover. Murad Machaev hopes to bring an end to that streak tonight. Unbeaten as a professional Machaev expects to continue the Russian dominance under the Bellator banner.

Another fun fight in the opening round will see a clash between Dave Jansen and Magomed Saadulaev. This one looks to be a ground battle as 17 of their combined 30 victories have come via submission. Bellator 77 comes to us from Reading, Pennsylvania tonight and airs LIVE on MTV 2 beginning at 8pmET the preliminary card airs on Spike.com starting at 6pmET.

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