Bellator 87 marked the start of the season 8 lightweight tournament, one of Bellator’s most exciting divisions. Unfortunately for the fans, the arguable favorite, Patricky “Pitbull” Freire, was forced to withdraw due to injury earlier this week. However, the show went on as expected, and there were four great lightweight fights that shed light upon some new contenders hungry for a shot at Michael Chandler’s lightweight strap.
Rickels outlasts Woodard, impresses in lightweight debut
David “Caveman” Rickels showed that he will be force at 155, weathering an early barrage from Lloyd Woodard to advance in the lightweight tournament via unanimous decision. Early on, Woodard was explosive, landing a take down and working hard to put Rickels away early. The “Caveman” was not deterred however, as he survived several submission attempts and ground and pound in round one and came out the aggressor in round two. Rickels was able to land with much more proficiency throughout the second and third rounds as Woodard clearly became fatigued, and won a clear 29-28 decision on all three scorecards.
Brooks stays undefeated, outclassing Tirloni
Will Brooks made his Bellator debut, looking every bit the part of an up and coming contender as he bested veteran Ricardo Tirloni. After an impressive win on the Dream New Year’s show, Brooks kept on rolling as he cruised past Tirloni, never leaving the result in doubt. Tirloni wasn’t able to mount much of any offense, as Brooks out dueled him on the feet and was also able to take him down with relative ease. Tirloni attempted a handful of submissions, but Brooks was able to defend them successfully. Brooks appears primed to make some noise in Bellator, and he will surely be an exciting prospect to keep an eye on.
Late replacement Awad shocks DeLorenzi
It took Saad Awad 31 seconds to literally punch his ticket to the lightweight semi-finals after being thrust into action following Patricky Freire’s withdrawal due to injury. If Guillame DeLorenzi thought that he was now going to have a cakewalk to the next round of the tournament, then he was certainly disappointed. Awad attacked aggressively from the opening bell, and landed a massive right hand to the temple that sent DeLorenzi crashing back into the cage. The referee stepped in following a barrage of strikes, and now Awad, who didn’t even make his entrance into this tournament until two days ago, finds himself sitting among the final four.
“Tiger” pounces on Michel, chokes him out in the second
After a quick start by Alexander Sarnavskiy, the “Tiger” went for the kill in the second round, finishing Thiago Michel via rear naked choke. “Tiger” showed an improved stand up game in the first round, mixing in strong overhand rights and multiple body kicks. He was thought to be at a disadvantage standing, but that did not seem the case, as he was able to drop Michel within the first 30 seconds of round one. In round two, it was back to basics for Sarnavskiy, as he showed his dominant wrestling and found himself opportunistically taking Michel’s back. From here it was only a matter of time, as he was able to send Michel out of the tournament while securing his 12th career submission victory.