Bellator 87 Preview: Lightweight Tournament Begins

The eighth season of Bellator MMA continues tonight from the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort in Michigan with Bellator 87, which will feature the quarterfinals of the lightweight tournament.Bellator 87

The preliminary card will being at 7 p.m. ET on with six fights and will be headlined by a lightweight tournament reserve fight as Jason Fischer (5-1) meets Sevak Magakian (12-3).

The main card will then begin at 10 p.m. ET on Spike TV and will feature the four quarterfinal bouts in the lightweight tournament.

Bellator did have to make a change with one of the tournament fights as tournament veteran Patricky Pitbull have to pull out of the tournament after he injured his knee in his final training session. With Pitbull out of the tournament, Bellator turned to Saad Awad to replace him and he will take on Guillame DeLorenzi.

This lightweight tournament features five fighters that have been in a Bellator tournament before and this is the first tournament for Awad, DeLorenzi and Will Brooks.  Awad and DeLorenzi have previously had fights in the Bellator cage, but this will be the debut of Brooks.

The first tournament fight of the night will see season seven tournament quarterfinalist Alexander “Tiger” Sarnavskiy (21-1) facing season six tournament semifinalist Thiago Michel (10-3).

Tiger entered the tournament last year with a 20-0 record and was viewed as the favorite to win the tournament. However, he was defeated by MMA veteran Rich Clementi and lost by decision. He returned later in the season and scored his first Bellator win with a decision over Tony Hervey.

Michel is a kick boxer and this is his first fight since losing to Brent Weedman in the semifinals of the season six tournament. Nine of his ten victories have come by TKO/KO and will look to keep the fight standing. Both of his fights in Bellator have gone to decision and both were split decisions.

The winner of Sarnavskiy and Michel will advance to the semifinals and will face the winner of tonight’s main event between Rickels (11-1) and Woodard (12-2). This is the lightweight debut of Rickels, who is coming down in weight from the welterweight division. He has gone 5-1 in Bellator and is coming off a 160 lb catchweight decision win over Fischer.

This is the third tournament for Woodard, who has made it to the semifinals in the season four and six tournaments. He was defeated by the eventual tournament winners in Michael Chandler and Rick Hawn. Both of his wins in Bellator have come by stoppage and he likes to finish fights on the ground.

During yesterday’s weigh-in’s, Rickels issued a challenge to Woodard that the loser of the fight has to shave there beard. After Woodard weighed in, he accepted the challenge and the two fighters had the best staredown at the weigh-in’s.

On the other side of the bracket, Awad (12-4) will face DiLorenzi (10-1) and Brooks (8-0) will take on Tirloni (15-3), which this will be the third lightweight tournament that Tirloni has been in. He was a semifinalist during last seasons tournament and lost a close split decision to Dave Jansen. Both of Tirloni’s wins in Bellator have come by submission and he will look to get a stoppage, instead of letting the judges decide the fight.

Brooks is considered a top lightweight prospect and his skills will be tested against Tirloni. Seven of his eight wins are by stoppage and is coming off a win at the DREAM 18 show in Japan on New Years Eve. He has only gone to the third round twice in his career and this is the biggest fight of his career.

For coverage of tonight’s Bellator 87 card, will have live results and play by play of the card starting with the preliminary card at 7 p.m. ET.

The full Bellator 87 card is below:

Main Card: (Spike TV – 10 p.m. ET)
David Rickels (11-1) vs. Lloyd Woodard (12-2) *
Guillaume DeLorenzi (10-1) vs. Saad Awad (12-4) *
Will Brooks (8-0) vs. Ricardo Tirloni (15-3) *
Alexander Sarnavskiy (21-1) vs. Thiago Michel (10-3) *

Preliminary Card: ( – 8 p.m. ET)
Sevak Magakian (12-3) vs. Jason Fischer (5-1)
Jason Fish (2-0) vs. Karl Etherington (7-0)
J.P. Reese (8-4) vs. David Shepherd (5-2)
Sam Quito (11-4) vs. Ben Lagman (7-2)
John Schulz (4-0) vs. Amir Killah (10-5)
Nick Kirk (9-1) vs. Tony Zelinski (3-2)

* – Lightweight Tournament Quarterfinal