While not looking past Dakota Cochrane, Alexander “Tiger” Sarnavskiy interested in a rematch with Will Brooks

Alexander “Tiger” Sarnavskiy has not been seen in a Bellator cage in eleven months as his last appearance came at Bellator 109 as he was defeated by Will Brooks in the season nine lightweight tournament final.Alexander Sarnavskiy

The defeat snapped a five fight winning streak and since that fight, Sarnavskiy has won three in a row and will return to Bellator tomorrow night against Dakota Cochrane.

Since the defeat against Brooks, Sarnavskiy has been working on improving his overall mixed martial arts arsenal, and particularly the wrestling aspect of the sport.

“After I lost to Will Brooks, me and my team thought a lot about how to avoid making the same mistakes ever again,” Sarnavskiy said. “So I trained a lot, I fought and won three times in Russia during this period of time, and I think I became much stronger. In my recent fights in Russia, I tried to work on my weak sides — wrestling in particular. So I mixed stand-up with takedowns and some ground game. But at the same time I tried to make those fights entertaining.”

In the fight against Brooks, Sarnavskiy admitted that he allowed Brooks to set the pace of the fight and would like to get another shot at Brooks sometime in the future.

“My mistake was that I let Will Brooks dictate the pace of the fight, and dictate where the fight took place. I think if I’ve got a chance to fight him now, I wouldn’t make such mistakes. Of course I was very upset about this loss, especially because of the fact that I didn’t show anything in that fight. But it just made me angry. It gave me huge motivation to train more and made me stronger. Yes, I want to fight Will Brooks again. And I don’t care when. He’s a great opponent, and I really want to test myself against him again.”

On Friday night, he was initially scheduled to face John Gunderson. However, Gunderson announced his retirement two weeks ago and Bellator turned to Derek Campos. Once again, the opponent would fall out for Sarnavskiy and he will now face Cochrane.

“I know Dakota Cochrane is a physically strong fighter, with abig heart, I watched a few of his fights,” he said. “When he loses he’s either KO’d, or he prefers to fall asleep rather than to tap out. He is a good opponent. Dakota’s explosive, and he has good takedowns. Weaknesses – he doesn’t like to fight standing up, even though he’s capable of surprising anyone standing. So I can’t underestimate him for sure. He always tries to impose his will on his opponent.”

With the changes in opponents, has this been an effect on Sarnavskiy?

“I can’t say that it was that much of a problem for me to switch opponents,” he said. “Of course it is not convenient when your opponents change, especially close to the fight. But it’s a sport, anyone could get hurt on training, so I don’t think about it as about a huge problem.”

With Cochrane taking this fight on very short notice, it’s safe to say he has nothing to lose. Two weeks ago, he was not even a Bellator fighter. Now he has an opportunity to knock off one of the better lightweights in Bellator. Sarnavskiy is aware that his opponent has everything to gain in this fight and nothing to lose, but he does not feel any additional pressure.

“I also know that he agreed to fight me like 9 days prior to the fight,” Sarnavskiy. “So if I beat him, he is not losing anything. If he beats me – he’s a hero! Not the best variant for me, but I don’t have a choice at this moment. I don’t feel much pressure. I feel good. What I need to do is to stay calm, and not to make mistakes. In this case everything will be ok.”