The Bellator Season 9 Lightweight Tournament kicks off tonight at Bellator 101 from the Moda Center at the Rose Quarter in Portland, Oregon.
Slated for the card are long time veterans John Alessio, Marcus Davis, and Rich Clementi; as well as top international talent in Alexander “Tiger” Sarnavsiky, Ricardo Triloni, and Martin Stapleton. To add even further depth, up and coming prospect Will Brooks and Season 8 Finalist Saad Awad are competing as well. By popular opinion, this is the “most stacked” tournament of Season 9.
The cherry on top of this sundae is the second half of the Season 9 Bantamweight Tournament as Joe Warren meets Nick Kirk and the winner will face Travis Marx in the tournament final. Following yesterday’s weigh-in’s, Kirk told TheMMAReport.com that he is ready for tonight’s fight after having an extended training camp.
“It ended up being about 7 months worth of training for this fight, so for me it was like more time was more of a gift, more time to prepare for this (fight),” Kirk said.
His original bout with Warren was scheduled for co-main Event Bellator 98, but it was postponed when Warren was not medically cleared by the Mohegan Tribe commission. Now in the main event of Bellator 101, Kirk is keeping his head on his shoulders.
“You know that helps, but all that goes by the way side, I’m ready to go out and get a big win for myself. Being in the main event is just a bonus”.
After reports broke of Warren’s sparring session mishap, many took to questioning if the former champions chin had gone south. It should be noted that Warren has denied the reports about his sparring session.
It is no secret Warren has absorbed his share of punishment. Using his iron chin to overcome Patricio Pitbull and Joe Soto; before brutally falling to Pat Curran. Kirk is playing is safe, assuming nothing and expecting anything.
“Nothing changes, you know, he is who he is, whether he got knocked out or not. That doesn’t change who he is. That doesn’t change who I am. Everything stays the same, the goal is the same, and the game plan is the same.”
If Kirk is able to pull off the victory tonight, he will meet Marx at a future Bellator event and he feels that Marx would be his toughest test in the tournament.
“I consider Travis to be the toughest test in the tournament, he’s an absolute beast and a great guy. I think we would have an epic war! But I’m focusing on Joe, will cross that bridge when I get to it. Marx is more dangerous in striking and subs though. I think it would be close”.