Coming off a great opening round of the featherweight tournament at last week, it’s the lightweights turn this Friday at Bellator 77. The field of eight lightweights features many new faces, a couple of returning fighters and one MMA veteran that has nearly as many fights as the only seven fighters combined.
The goal of these eight fighters is the Bellator lightweight championship belt currently around the waist of Michael Chandler but they’ll need to win three tournament bouts to make that a reality. Though when the winner eventually emerges, Chandler might not even be the champion standing across from him because he’s got to fight season six tournament winner Rick Hawn first.
The match ups for the field of eight, vying for the title shot and the $100,000 at Bellator 77 are:
Magomed Saadulaev (14-1) vs. Dave Jansen (17-2)
Magomed Saadulaev is another one of the many Russian fighters that Bellator has recently signed. Along with making his promotional debut, it will be his first MMA fight in the United States and he comes in having won his last three in a row. Dave Jansen is a WEC and Bellator veteran, having won all three of his last bouts inside the Bellator cage. Standout stat: The fighters combine for just one win via knockout but have 18 victories combined by submission.
Murad Machaev (9-0) vs. Marcin Held (13-2)
Like his countryman above, Murad Machaev is making his promotional debut at the same time he fights in the United States for the first time. The undefeated Russian has been training with the guys at the Reign Training Center for this bout. Marcin Held lost to the eventual winner of the season four lightweight tournament (Michael Chandler) but has won his last two Bellator fights.
Rene Nazare (10-2) vs. Ricardo Tirloni (14-2)
Of the eight lightweights, Rene Nazare enters the tournament with the most Bellator experience. The Brazilian has fought five times but limps into Bellator 77 and the tournament on a two fight losing streak. Ricardo Tirloni earned his spot in the season six lightweight tournament with a win in his Bellator debut but lost in the opening round to Rick Hawn that snapped an 11 fight winning streak. Standout stat: Both fighters are coming of tournament defeats.
Alexander Sarnavskiy (20-0) vs. Rich Clementi (44-21-1)
The most anticipated bout of the night has another Russian, Alexander Sarnavskiy and his undefeated record making his Bellator debut. Sarnavskiy fought several times for M-1 Global before signing with Bellator and comes in a one of Europe’s top MMA prospects. Rich Clementi lost his first bid to qualify for a Bellator tournament but enters Bellator 77 on a two fight winner streak, including a submission win at Bellator 70. Clementi will clearly have the experience edge but at 12 years the elder of Sarnavskiy he’ll have to battle father time once again. Standout stat: Clementi has more submission victories than his opponent his fights.
The Bellator 77 main card will air on MTV2 starting at 8pm ET/PT and take place from the Reading Theatre at the Sovereign Center in Reading, Pennsylvania.