Bellator has started to release their Fall Season calendar, and yesterday announced Bellator 101 is set for September 27th in Portland featuring the opening round of an eight man tournament in the Lightweight division. The tournament feild is very competitive, as Bellator typically matches their tournaments tight, so it is difficult to pick a favorite from the field of eight (plus two alternates).
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In the opening match, 50 fight veteran John Alessio takes on 9-1 Will Brooks. Brooks is 1-1 in Bellator and owns a win overseas on veteran Satoru Kitaoka, who is another veteran of nearly 50 fights. Alessio, who was recently cut by the UFC, is making his Bellator debut, and now that he is on the B side of a long career, this match may depend on how focused Alessio is. Bellator has not been overly kind to re-tread veterans (see ‘Babalu’) and ‘Ill Will’ Brooks will want to see that tread continue.
The second match features another UFC veteran, Marcus Davis, as he takes on 23-1 Alexander Sarnavsky. Davis is a solid fighter, but look for Sarnavsky to come out aggressive. His lone loss comes to Rich Clementi in Bellator, by Split Decision, so he will not want to leave it to the judges. Davis will be looking for openings against an aggressive attack.
Clementi is also in the tournament field, taking on Britain’s Rob Sinclair. Sinclair is riding a five fight winning streak and is known as a slugger, but Clementi is a veteran of over 80 fights who is perhaps not as sharp physically at 37 as he once was, but is still on top of the game with toughness and mettle. Look for Clementi to survive a fire fight and win a grinder.
The final bout of the opening round pits Martin Stapleton against Saad Awad. Awad lost in the tournament finals last season for Bellator, to Dave Rickels, but he has had several fast KO wins in his career and is a threat to take the tournament. Stapleton is probably the tougher of the two Brits in the tournament, but he has faced only British competition and it will show.
The alternate fight has Bellator veterans Ricardo Tirloni taking on Marcin Held. Held is coming of a loss in Bellator, and the 21 year old Polish fighter is still considered a protege. Tirloni is a tough Brazilian who has 2 losses in a row and is in dire need of a win.