Next weekend is a UFC free fight weekend, which means Bellator 77, scheduled for Reading, Pennsylvania on October 19th and airing on MTV2 is the big show on the books. The event is headlined by the opening round of a Lightweight tournament featuring 4 bouts – Rich Clementi vs. Alexander “Tiger” Sarnavskiy, Rene Nazare vs. Ricardo Tirloni, Marcin Held vs. Murad Machaev and Dave Jansen vs. Magomed Saadulaev. Notice a pattern here?
Once again, Bellator shows their weakness, and that is in developing fighters in the American market. The tournament is packed with European talent who know one in the United States knows anything about. Granted some may be talented, but as they face a move to SPIKETV network with a roster full of foreign talent that will be hard to market with limited english.
Keep in mind that Bellator’s first season was on ESPN Deportes, a Spanish outlet, and they were supposedly geared toward that market. They did an extremely poor job targeting that audience and dropped the premise when they got a better gig. What they never did is make connections with gyms and academies in the USA. It is hard to believe you cant find 5 guys from the myriad of teams across the USA to bolster a tournament.
And Rich Clementi, as tough as he is, is unlikely to get through round 1. He faces 20-0 Alexander Sarnavskiy, and though not a great deal is known about his previous competition, his youth and hunger should carry the day over Clementi, who is to be respected but is long in the tooth.
Marcin Held vs. Murad Machaev features a fighter from Poland taking on a fighter from Russia. This for a tournament on MTV2 that is to be held in Reading, Pennsylvania. How do you even make odds for a fight like this? Held has been in Bellator before, while this is Machaev’s first gig in the United States.
Rene Nazare vs. Ricardo Tirloni features some Brazilian on Brazilian violence, with Turloni looking to be the more skilled and tried of the two fighters.
Dave Jansen vs. Magomed Saadulaev is another tough one to call. We know Jansen washed out of the Zuffa owned WEC with two losses in a row, but has a solid 16-2 record overall. Less is known about the Russian Saadulaev, who is 14-1 and also making his first trip to fight in the United States.
With no other MMA on this weekend, the fights are worth watching. There is a chance one of the Russians especially will be a standout, which might provide betting opportunities as the tournament continues next month. But for now, it is hard to get a beat on this card, and the under card is complete trash.