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

Anastasia Yankova's grappling coach predicted her first-round win at Bellator 152

  • 10 days ago
  • 12 views

TURIN, Italy – Anastasia Yankova remained perfect as a professional at Bellator 152, scoring a first-round armbar submission of Anjela Pink.Filed under: Bellator, Featured Videos, News, Videos read news >>

Bellator fighters discuss free agency trend in MMA

  • 10 days ago
  • 17 views

TURIN, Italy – Bellator has benefitted greatly from the rise in fighters exercising their free agency rights following terms in the UFC.Filed under: Bellator, Featured Videos, News, Videos read news >>

Bellator 153's Michael 'Venom' Page on cusp of stardom in second episode of 'MVP 24/7'

  • 9 days ago
  • 23 views

This Friday, one of MMA’s flashiest and most entertaining fighters returns to the Bellator cage. Learn more about “The Michael Jackson of MMA,” Michael “Venom” Page.Filed under: Bellator, Featured, F read news >>

Following Conor McGregor's 'Retirement' Tweet, His Coach Responds in Kind

  • 9 days ago
  • 308 views

With the MMA universe currently on red alert following a sudden, cryptic tweet from Conor McGregor that he had "decided to retire young," a number of folks close to the UFC featherweight champ have b read news >>

Former middleweight champ Brandon Halsey faces John Salter at Bellator 156

  • 9 days ago
  • 8 views

Brandon Halsey will resume his attempt to recapture the middleweight title when he faces John Salter at Bellator 156.Filed under: Bellator, News read news >>

Paul Daley: '(Expletive)' Josh Koscheck knows he's bitten off more than he can chew

  • 9 days ago
  • 29 views

LONDON – Bellator welterweight Paul Daley promised not to make too big a scene when he squared off with rival Josh Koscheck at Monday’s face-off for their upcoming rematch at Bellator 158.Filed under read news >>

Bellator fighters talk promotion's push to expand internationally

  • 9 days ago
  • 7 views

TURIN, Italy – Bellator held their first international event this past weekend when Bellator 152 took place at Pala Alpitour in Turin, Italy. Days later, they announced Bellator 158, which takes plac read news >>

Bellator 158's Josh Koscheck never expected to rematch Paul Daley

  • 8 days ago
  • 19 views

LONDON – Josh Koscheck’s decision to sign with Bellator has led him back to several places he thought were left in the past. Most notably, a rematch with Paul Daley and fighting on Spike, the network read news >>

Human Highlight Reel: Bellator Star Michael Page Is Looking to Change the Game

  • 8 days ago
  • 7 views

Mixed martial arts inspires the unbelievable. Being locked in a cage with another martial arts master forces a level of concentration, willpower and mental dexterity that is incomparable. The improba read news >>

Bellator 153's Patricio Freire plans to keep breaking records on way back to title

  • 8 days ago
  • 6 views

For his first fight back after losing Bellator’s featherweight title, things could’ve been a little better for Patricio Freire. Filed under: Bellator, News read news >>