Bellator will open its Season 9 lightweight tournament in September with a field of eight fighters who have combined for 172 career victories – and one who will come out of retirement.
Bellator 101 will take place Sept. 27 at Rose Garden Arena in Portland, the promotion on Wednesday announced. Tickets for the event go on sale Friday, and as usual the main card will air live on Spike TV following Spike.com-streamed prelims.
As with all of Bellator’s tournaments, the winner gets $100,000 in total tournament prize money and a shot at the Bellator title, which currently is held by Michael Chandler.
The field for the Season 9 155-pound tournament includes three UFC veterans. Marcus Davis (22-9 MMA, 0-0 BFC) meets Alexander Sarnavskiy (23-1 MMA, 2-1 BFC); John Alessio (34-16 MMA, 0-0 BFC) takes on Will Brooks (9-1 MMA, 1-1 BFC); Saad Awad (14-5 MMA, 2-2 BFC) meets Martin Stapleton (12-1 MMA, 0-0 BFC); and Rich Clementi (45-22-1 MMA, 2-2 BFC) faces Rob Sinclair (12-2 MMA, 0-0 BFC).
Davis will get another shot at his first Bellator victory. In March, he debuted with the promotion, but his fight with Waachiim Spiritwolf ended in a no-contest after an accidental knee to the groin left Spiritwolf unable to continue. Davis debuted in the UFC in 2005 and went 9-6 with the promotion. But it was four losses in five fights that led to his release in 2011. Since then, he’s gone 5-1. Sarnavskiy will look to build on the three-fight win streak he has since losing for the first time in his career, a split-decision setback to Clementi at Bellator 77.
Alessio will make his Bellator debut after a two-fight losing skid led to his release from the UFC. In November, he had a no-contest against Dave Mazany for Aggression Fighting Championship in his native Canada after being poked in the eye. Brooks started his career 9-0 before being knocked out by Awad in 43 seconds in the Season 8 lightweight tournament semifinals, and he’ll look to rebound from that first career setback.
Awad recorded a pair of quick first-round knockouts in the Season 8 tournament, stopping Guillaume DeLorenzi in 31 seconds, then stopping Brooks in 43 seconds in February. But a month later, his six-fight win streak was snapped in the tournament final when David Rickels handed him a second-round TKO loss. Stapleton will make his Bellator debut on the strength of an eight-fight win streak since the lone loss of his career, a submission setback against UFC veteran Paul Sass five years ago. After being inactive for more than two years, Stapleton came back strong in 2012, going 5-0.
Clementi returns after previously announcing his retirement. He will be looking to bounce back from a loss to Marcin Held in the Season 7 tournament semifinals. Held submitted him with a second-round toe hold, snapping Clementi’s three-fight streak. The UFC veteran went 5-5 in that promotion. Sinclair will debut for Bellator with a five-fight win streak that includes a win over UFC veteran Andre Winner for BAMMA in September.
“I am so excited to have the chance to compete again,” Clementi stated. “For those who have been following me, I made an official retirement a few months ago and was diagnosed with severe sleep apnea. The last few years of competing, I’ve been running on four flat tires. But after being under treatment for the last three months, my body is responding well. Fighting is who I am and the thought of not being able to do that was devastating. I am so excited to get back in the cage and show people what I am made of.”
The Bellator 101 card currently includes:
MAIN CARD (Spike TV, 9 p.m. ET)
- Marcus Davis vs. Tiger Sarnavskiy – lightweight tournament opening round
- John Alessio vs. Will Brooks – lightweight tournament opening round
- Saad Awad vs. Martin Stapelton – lightweight tournament opening round
- Rich Clementi vs. Rob Sinclair – lightweight tournament opening round
For the latest on Bellator 101, stay tuned to the MMA Rumors section of the site.
(Pictured: Rich Clementi)