Friday night from the Sovereign Center in Reading, PA, the opening round of the lightweight tournament saw four exciting bouts that resulted in some unexpected outcomes. A mix of returning tournament participates and Bellator newcomers would step into the cage at Bellator 77.
Here is how Bellator 77 played out on Friday night.
Rene Nazare vs. Ricardo Tirloni:
These two BJJ wizards claimed they both wanted to test the other standing, and both looked solid outside of their natural element in the first round. Nazare’s fast combination attacks were on display, while Tirloni used a simple boxing technique and tried to set up counters inside the pocket. While Nazare attempted a few takedowns in the opening minutes, none led to meaningful mat time for either man.
The second round saw more of the same until a dazzling sequence ended the fight. Having had success with his one-two, Nazare connected and wobbled Tirloni, launching into a full-scale attack with his opponent on the fence. Tirloni gathered his wits under fire though and landed a crushing right hook counter that nearly sent Nazare to the canvas. Locking up a ten-finger guillotine, Tirloni kept the pressure on his wounded foe, found his way to the mat and transitioned into a d’arce choke that put Nazare out cold, giving Tirloni the tournament win.
Ricardo Tirloni wins via 2nd round submission (D’arce Choke)
Marcin Held vs. Murad Machaev:
Long-time Bellator prospect Marcin Held once again found himself in the Lightweight Tournament, this time opposite Russian new-comer Murad Machaev. In a spirited contest between the fighters, Held used his unorthodox boxing style, well-timed takedowns and the threat of his submission savvy to keep Machaev on the defensive for much of the fight. While Machaev found some success in the middle round with his counter punching, he was never able to connect enough to truly hurt Held, whom walked away with a decision win.
Marcin Held wins via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Dave Jansen vs. Magomed Saadulaev:
WEC veteran and talented fighter Dave Jansen made his appearance in the Bellator cage inside the tournament format, taking on Russian freestyle wrestler Magomed Saadulaev in a surprisingly exciting fight. It was Oregon D-1 wrestling taking on Russian freestyle champion, and much like a grappling version of Rocky 4, Russia was winning at first. Landing takedowns and having a slight edge where transitions were concerned, Saadulaev was methodically breaking Jansen apart piece by piece. While Saadulaev looked great initially, it was the wheels on his own car that came off first, gassing out hand due to the frantic pace and giving up the last two minutes of a tight round.
With more striking on display in the second round and third rounds, Saadulaev attempted a Roy Jones Jr impression, but was getting the worst of it as Jansen’s more measured approach landed on Saadulaev and further wore him down. Finally in the third round, Saadulaev’s obvious fatigue got the better of him as he went for a lazy takedown and wound up gasping for air inside Jansen’s guillotine, finally tapping and allowing Jansen to advance to the next stage of the tournament.
Dave Jansen wins via 3rd round submission (Guillotine choke)
Tiger Sarnavskiy vs. Rich Clementi:
The final tournament bout of the night was one of the most nail-biting, as the well-travelled Clementi faced highly regarded Russian prospect Sarnavskiy. Sarnavskiy’s striking was immediately on display, throwing killshot after killshot, but Clementi’s experience and grappling acumen were just too much for the Russian. Spending two entire rounds with Clementi attached to his back hunting for a choke, Sarnavskiy was down on the score cards in the 3rd and tried his level best to knock Clementi’s head off. The clearly weary American was able to avoid major damage while looking for a variety of submissions and landing effortless takedowns though, staying alive in this fight to see the score cards. While one judge inexplicably gave Sarnavskiy the nod, two others had it for Clementi, passing him into the next round via split decision.
Rich Clementi wins via Split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
Brett Martinez defeats Eric Albright via 2nd rd. submission (guillotine choke)
Duane Bastress defeats Ariel Sepulveda via Split Decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
Cosmo Alexandre defeats Mike Bannon via 2nd rd. TKO (ref stoppage)
Darren Horcher defeats EJ Brooks via 1st rd KO
Lew Polly defeats Carmelo Marrero via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Following Bellator 77, the promotion will be back this coming Friday with Bellator 78 in Dayton, Ohio.