Alexander Sarnavskiy is regarded by many as one of the world’s top lightweight prospects, but the 23-year-old RusFighters representative says that would not be the case were it not for his mentor, two-time Bellator middleweight tournament champion Alexander Shlemenko.

“I think that if it weren’t for [Shlemenko] that I would not have become a professional mixed martial artist. If it weren’t for him, I would never have achieved anything even close to what I have [at this point],” Sarnavskiy recently told Sherdog.com. “He hasn’t just been a gym coach for me and my teammates. He’s also been a role model and a teacher and mentor. I’m very thankful to him, and I consider myself to be very lucky to have met him and to be able to train under him.”

Sarnavskiy will take all that he has learned from “Storm” into the cage in just a few hours to square off with Rich Clementi, the man who should provide the young Russian with the toughest test of his career thus far. The two will square off in the main event of Bellator 77, which takes place at the Reading Theatre at the Sovereign Center in Reading, Penn., and airs on MTV2.

Known as “No Love,” Clementi has competed 66 times during his 13-year pro career, during which the 35-year-old has bested the likes of Anthony Johnson, Melvin Guillard and Sam Stout in the UFC’s Octagon. According to Sarnavskiy, Clementi’s considerable experience advantage should make his job a difficult one when the two collide tonight.

“I think it will be really hard to somehow surprise him. He’s seen everything in the cage, and he’s fought in the biggest organizations against tough opponents,” said Sarnavskiy of his foe. “He is really good with his ground game. He either takes his opponent down or he lets his opponent take him down, and he is really good at [attempting] submissions in the moment when he is being taken down.”

As a result of Sarnavskiy’s respect for Clementi’s skills on the mat, the Russian says he will likely try to keep the fight standing.

“I dedicated a lot of time in training to defending the takedown and standing up after being taken down,” said Sarnavskiy. “I don’t want to fight him on the ground, even though I feel pretty confident there, because it would be his territory.”

Much like his mentor Shlemenko and training partner Andrey Koreshkov, Sarnavskiy has honed an intensely aggressive style over the course of nearly four years as a professional, finishing 17 of his 20 career victims by either knockout or submission.

“It’s how I approach fighting. It’s a professional sport, so there is no room for anything else here,” said Sarnavskiy. “When I enter the cage and the door locks behind us, there are just the two of us in the cage, and only one can win. I assume that my opponent is trying to take away food from my family, and I don’t want him to do that. That’s why I’m trying to beat him as fast and as brutal as possible.”

Although “Tiger” says that he would love to use his trademark aggression to stop his veteran opponent and make an emphatic statement, the prospect believes that focusing too intently on securing a stoppage could produce the opposite effect.

“Every fighter, including myself, wants a finish so that everybody will remember it. If I get this opportunity, of course I will take it,” Sarnavskiy said. “However, in my experience and the experience of my coach and teammates, when you focus too much on finishing your opponent, you almost never do it.”

Sarnavskiy will enter the cage tonight on the strength of 20 consecutive victories. While boxing enthusiasts might note that a 20-0 pro record is a relatively common occurrence, MMA fans know the standard for determining success is quite different under mixed rules. Although many fighters dismiss the idea of feeling added pressure to keep their undefeated records alive, Sarnavskiy readily admits that he feels a tremendous responsibility to stay unbeaten, not only for himself, but also for his friends, family, fans, manager and coach.

“I feel a huge amount of pressure every time I enter the cage, because I have to prove to everybody that my record is real,” said Sarnavskiy. “Every time I step into the cage, I have to mentally focus, and it’s really hard, but what can I do? I’m just trying to stay undefeated.”

view original article >>
Report here if this news is invalid.

Related News

The MMA Hour - 294 - Mike Brown

  • 21 days ago
  • 0 views

Mike Brown will talk about his tremendous success as a coach thus far. read news >>

Coach: Amanda Nunes' striking is 'light years ahead' of Ronda Rousey's

  • 17 days ago
  • 67 views

Few people ever mentioned Amanda Nunes as a worthy title challenger for Ronda Rousey before this past Saturday. But after watching her dazzling display against Sara McMann, they certainly are now. Nu read news >>

With legacy secure, Bellator's Marloes Coenen won't hate on others' success

  • 6 days ago
  • 14 views

It would be easy for Marloes Coenen to view others' success with bitterness. After all, during this age in which women's mixed martial arts has reached unimaginable levels of visibility, others reap read news >>

Bellator 141 is First, but Lorenzo Hood Has Plans for Kimbo Slice

  • 6 days ago
  • 2 views

Lorenzo Hood has Raphael Butler ahead of him at Bellator 141 on Friday, but his future plans include Kimbo Slice. read news >>

Shlemenko appeals drug suspension in California court, will not retire from MMA

  • 5 days ago
  • 1 views

Former Bellator middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko revealed that he has filed the necessary documentation to appeal his drug suspension in a California court. Just a couple of months following read news >>

College Roommate Ignited Jake Roberts’s MMA Spark

  • 26 days ago
  • 0 views

Undefeated RFA lightweight prospect Jake Roberts credits his college roommate for igniting the MMA spark inside of him. read news >>

Latest Bellator 141 fight card and rumors for 'Guillard vs Girtz' on Spike TV

  • 26 days ago
  • 9 views

Two Lightweights collide in the main event of Bellator 141: "Guillard vs. Girtz," which is scheduled to go down inside Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, Calif., on Aug. 28, 2015. The Spike TV-tel read news >>

Latest CM Punk update: Watch video of UFC rookie sparring, grappling ahead of (eventual) Octagon debut

  • 26 days ago
  • 698 views

"I definitely don't want to wait too long. I understand all the criticism. Here I am with you interviewing me, they're making me do media, all this stuff. Eventually you're sick of talking about it a read news >>

Martin Kampmann set to step down at Team Alpha Male head coach

  • 27 days ago
  • 149 views

Martin Kampmann is leaving his post as head coach of Team Alpha Male. Kampmann will leave the gym, the home of UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw and several top contenders in lighter weight cl read news >>

UFC Fight Night Nashville: Care/Don't Care Preview

  • 27 days ago
  • 0 views

Sorry cry babies, Kid Nate + Eugene S. Robinson look ahead to this weekend's UFC Fight Night featuring Glover Teixeira vs. Ovince Saint Preaux in the infamous & patented Care/Don't Care Preview. read news >>