The Juggernaut MMA News Report 09.26.13: Bellator 101 Preview - Warren's Return
Posted by Jonathan Solomon on 09.26.2013
Is Joe Warren washed up or is he prepared to begin a new run to championship glory? 411's Jonathan Solomon previews Bellator 101! Plus news and thoughts on Jon Jones' and Alex Gustafsson's latest health updates and more!
Bellator 101 Preview
The UFC showcased light heavyweights last weekend and what transpired was arguably the fight of the year (so far) between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson. Now, it's Bellator's turn.
Bellator MMA returns this Friday night for their 101st show, on Spike TV, with Joe Warren back in action and the start of the season nine lightweight tournament. The winner will earn $100,000 and the right to challenge for the championship against either reigning titleholder Michael Chandler or his upcoming challenger Eddie Alvarez. Here's how tomorrow's card shakes out.
Joe Warren v.s Nick Kirk
Recall, this fight was originally scheduled for three weeks ago but Warren did not receive medical clearance. We do not know for 100% why he could not gain clearance, but rumors had it he had recently been knocked out in training. In any event, he's apparently okay to compete tomorrow, and he will do so at bantamweight.
Nick Kirk will turn 31-years-old in November and boasts a 10-2 professional record. He's had two fights in Bellator, but lost both by decision (to David Harris in 2012 and to Tony Zelinski in January), so everywhere else -- he's undefeated. Aside from those two bouts, he competes mostly out of the Minneapolis area, so needless to say, this fight against Warren at Portland's Rose Garden is the biggest opportunity of his career.
Yes, Warren is clutching onto a career as an MMA fighter, but he still has a great pedigree and an ability to talk like few others in the sport. He will turn 37-years-old on Halloween and the world class wrestler gets a ton of flack for his two losses in Bellator. Why? Well, he was brutally knocked out by Alexis Villa and then Pat Curran (the first at 135 and the latter at 145-pounds). Against heavy handed strikers, he will struggle and since there's no reason to believe Kirk is one, you can see why Joe Warren should wrestle his way to victory.
As long as that indeed happens, he'll find himself in another tournament next year and we'll see how far he can go with that chin.
Marcus Davis vs. Alex Sarnavskiy
John Alessio vs. Will Brooks
Martin Stapleton vs. Saad Awad
Ricardo Tirloni vs. Rich Clementi
This is the field of eight men vying to win the lightweight tournament. The first round will take place tomorrow and most of these men are long-time Bellator fights you have read about often over the years. Stapleton is in his first tourney and of course the most well known name of the bunch belongs to former UFC contender Marcus Davis.
The Boston native is now 40-years-old and participating in his first Bellator tourney, too. He debuted in March in the cluster**** of a fight with Waachiim Spiritwolf in which the bout ended after three minutes due to a brutal knee to the groin (accidental knee). Davis fought on a local Maine show in May and defeated his opponent, so he's back and looking for his first Bellator win.
His 32-career fights (22-9, 1 NC) will not shake his young Russian opponent, Alex Sarnavskiy who despite being just 24-years-old, has already gone 23-1 in his pro career. That one defeat came last year in a split decision against Clementi, the big upset of the season seven tournament. Since then, he has reeled off three wins, two by submission.
Will "Tiger" lose to another fighter considered by most to be a washed up former UFC scrub? Not likely.
Elsewhere, there's John Alessio back in action again. The 34-year-old Canadian will make his Bellator debut here after going 0-2 with a no contest in his past three fights. He spent most of last year in the UFC where he lost to Mark Bocek and Shane Roller before an eye poke resulted in his return to Canada being prematurely called off. With 34-wins, he has more than three times the amount of victories as Will Brooks, his opponent.
Out of Chicago, the 27-year-old (well, as of about two weeks from now) burst onto the international MMA scene on New Year's Eve last year when he finished Satoru Kitaoka at Dream 18 in Japan. He was quickly scooped up by Bellator but lost in last season's semifinals when he was knocked out by Saad Awad. Other than that, he beat Tirloni and Chris Leyva and will look to fight the 'bust' label.
Speaking of Mr. Awad, the 30-year-old San Bernadino fighter was royally upset when lost in the season eight finals to David Rickels by TKO. He felt the referee wrongly stopped the fight after the second round ended, but from what I recall, he did not answer the referee's instruction to return to the corner (laying on his back instead) and what is the ref supposed to do? It ruined what would have been a great story, seeing Awad build himself up off two first-round knockouts to earn that final fight. He finished both Guillaume DeLorenzi and Will Brooks in a combined 74-second stretch.
His opponent is 30-year-old Englishman, Martin Stapleton. Making his U.S. debut, he is on an active eight-fight win streak and is coming off a tournament win in Liverpool in December. There, he beat three men in a single night to win the Cage Contender lightweight tourney. Can he stand and bang with Awad's knockout power? His only loss came in 2008 when he was choked out by Paul Sass.
The final quarterfinal match-up pits grappling specialist Ricardo Tirloni (15-4) against Rich Clementi (45-22-1).
Clementi, the 36-year-old rekindled some glory when he upset Sarnavskiy in October, but lost by brutal toe hold to Marcin Held in the semifinals. Tirloni will try his hand at a third tournament in this company after going 1-3 in tournament fights thus far. In 2012, he was knocked out by Rick Hawn. After advancing to the semis in the fall, he lost a split decision to Dave Jansen and then earlier this year, he lost to Brooks.
The Brazilian is a jiu-jitsu black belt and his biggest win to date remains his submission win over fellow black-belt Rene Nazare (in the seventh season quarterfinals).
Clementi will try to strike thunder twice because let's face it, anytime he beats a quality fighter at this stage of the game, it's an upset.
There's your field, full of potential redemption stories from across the globe, but only four men will move on this week.
JUGGERNAUT NEWS BRIEFS
- World Series of Fighting has made official their next show, WSOF 6, set for October 26 in Coral Gables, Florida on the NBC Sports Network. The main event pits Josh Burkman against Steve Carl for the vacant welterweight title. Also on the show: Jon Fitch vs. Marcel Alfaya, Marlon Moraes vs. Carson Beebe and Justin Gaethje vs. Dan Lauzon.
- Invicta Fighting Championships is also in the process of building their next show. The all-female fight promotion returns on December 7 in Kansas City, Missouri. On the show is a strawweight championship bout with champ Carla Esparza defending against top contender Claudia Gadelha.
- One of the best female fighters of all-time, Megumi Fujii, will call it a career in less than two weeks. She will fight Jessica Aguilar in her retirement bout in Japan at a Vale Tudo event. Aguilar is one of two women to beat Fujii (she's 26-2 overall), having won a unanimous decision at Bellator 69 in the spring of 2012.
- Bellator has confirmed their upcoming heavyweight tournament will feature only four competitors in a shortened setting. The two semi-final bouts are: Cheick Kongo vs. Mark Godbeer & Vinicius Queiroz vs. Lavar Johnson. The fights will go down at Bellator 102 on October 4 on Spike TV.
- Now nearly a week removed from their battle, neither Jon Jones or Alexander Gustafsson suffered serious injuries. The champion's foot is not fractured while Gustafsson only needed staples to close a cut on his head. As such, there's nothing (health related) standing in the way of UFC officials looking to do an immediate rematch in 2014.
- UPDATE: Announced early this morning, Jon Jones will next fight Glover Teixeira in what's expected to be the main event of the Super Bowl Saturday show in New Jersey on February 1. Dana White told ESPN.com that the champion requested this fight instead of a rematch with Gustafsson. Ariel Helwani explained that Jones changed his mind on a rematch because he re-watched their UFC 165 fight and now believes he "decisively" won.