Bellator Fighting Championships will head to "The Wolverine State" this Thursday night (Jan. 31, 2013) at the Soaring Eagle Casino in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.
The main card will air live on Spike TV on fight night, beginning at 10 p.m. ET.
Headlining the main event will be a fantastic lightweight showdown featuring the always entertaining Patricky "Pitbull" Freire and top Canadian prospect Guillaume DeLorenzi. "Pitbull" has had some rough luck as of late, losing three of his last four bouts, but considering two of those losses were to Eddie Alvarez and Michael Chandler, he deserves a bit of slack. DeLorenzi is a ferocious ground and pounder and this should make for a fantastic battle.
Also on tap, fan-favorites David Rickels and Lloyd Woodard will throw down while season six semifinalist Thiago Michel takes on Russian Alexander Sarnavskiy in what expects to be a thrilling stand-up battle.
Our complete Bellator 87 preview and predictions are posted below:
155 lbs.: Patricky Freire (10-4) vs. Guillaume DeLorenzi (10-1)
Pitbull has had a rough go of late, but he's the type of fighter that has no problem going out on his shield. He put up a tough fight against Michael Chandler, knocked out Kurt Pellegrino, had a war against Lloyd Woodard and then proceeded to have one of the most entertaining single round fights of 2012 against Eddie Alvarez. His experience against top competition is almost unmatched in this tournament. Now, he's trying to get back on track against an unheralded but still very talented lightweight prospect in DeLorenzi.
You may not know Guillaume DeLorenzi...yet, but he was ranked number nine on the Bloody Elbow 2011 scouting report for a reason. He's got serious talent, has beaten UFC veterans already and after an extended break of over two years away from the cage, he returned by winning inside the first round in his Bellator debut this past November.
Pitbull is going to come after him, and really make DeLorenzi scrap. That's what he does best. What DeLorenzi needs to do is what he does best, which is use his tremendous physical strength and take the Brazilian down before dropping his absolutely brutal ground and pound on his face. DeLorenzi also has a good base in jiu-jitsu as well, so he might even be able to pull this fight off with a submission if Pitbull slows down similar to what happened in his fight against Woodard. The big question mark here is whether or not Pitbull will land that heavy shot before DeLorenzi can dump him on his back. The signs are pointing to "yes."
Final Prediction: Patricky Pitbull via knockout in round one
155 lbs.: Lloyd Woodard (12-2) vs. David Rickels (11-1)
Lloyd Woodard has quickly become one of the most popular lightweights on the Bellator roster. He's scored several impressive victories over the likes of Carey Vanier and Patricky Pitbull, but he hasn't quite taken it to the next level, losing to both Michael Chandler and Rick Hawn in the semifinals of each tournament he's participated in. He's looking to reverse course this time around.
David Rickels is a homegrown Bellator fighter, winning three undercard fights to earn a berth in the season six welterweight tournament where he destroyed Jordan Smith in 22 second to advance to the semifinals. Once there, he gave eventual winner Karl Amoussou, losing a controversial decision. Now, he's dropping down to lightweight and hopes to make his mark in this lightweight tournament.
Woodard is wild and crazy, egging his opponents into amazing brawls and that's exactly what he needs to do if he wants to come out on top here. Rickels, when composed, has good power in his punches and some amazing submissions off his back, but he can be manhandled by bigger, stronger opponents and he can be hit due to a slight lack of defense in the striking department. If Woodard suckers him into a brawl, the fight is going to be incredible, but even if they remain composed, this is going to be very fun. Woodard will have the speed and the technique edge, but Rickels is all heart. Sometimes that's all it takes.
Final Prediction: Lloyd Woodard via decision
155 lbs.: Thiago Michel (11-3) vs. Alexander Sarnavskiy (21-1)
Thiago Michel is a very talented kickboxer. showcasing some ferocious striking on the local Brazilian circuit which caught the eye of the Bellator talent scouts. In his debut in America, he won a decision in the season six lightweight tournament against Rene Nazare, but would drop a close battle to Brent Weedman in the semifinals. Since then, he's destroyed David Gardner in a tune-up via second round TKO to get himself primed for this tournament.
Russian Alexander Sarnavskiy entered the season seven lightweight tournament as a huge favorite with a 20-0 unbeaten record, but he would be outgrappled in the first two rounds of his quarterfinal match against longtime veteran Rich Clementi. He rebounded by utilizing his offensive grappling skills against overmatched Tony Hervey in a tune-up fight to gain confidence heading into this tournament.
This fight will likely remain on its feet as both men are very competent strikes. While Michel will likely have a slight edge in technique, Sarnavskiy has all the physical tools to give him serious problems as he's very long and powerful. Look for Michel to try to land counters in response to Sarnavskiy's aggression on the feet as both men have very diverse attacks. Also, if the stand-up isn't going as anticipated, Sarnaskiy has decent takedowns, which he can mix with ground and pound to perhaps grind this fight out if he needs to.
Final Prediction: Alexander Sarnavskiy via decision
155 lbs.: Will Brooks (8-0) vs. Ricardo Tirloni (15-3)
Will Brooks came out of nowhere to become a hugely hyped prospect in the last month. After jumping out to a 7-0 record on the local circuit, he took a leap of faith and flew to Japan to compete on the 2012 Dream Dynamite special where he would meet top veteran Japanese grappler Satoru Kitaoka. He slammed and smashed his way to a second round TKO victory in an eye-opening performance and was immediately scooped up by Bellator.
Ricardo Tirloni has had some tough luck in his Bellator tournaments. He was knocked senseless by Rick Hawnin his tournament debut, but got his win back by defeating Rene Nazare in the season seven lightweight tournament. In the semifinals, he came back from a tough first round to win the final two against Dave Jansen, but found himself on the losing end of some very controversial scorecards. Now, he's extremely motivated to make something happen against another top prospect.
Tirloni has all the physical tools and technique to win a Bellator tournament, but there's something to be said about youthful exuberance and aggression. Brooks doesn't care how good Tirloni is, he's going to come right at him just like he didn't care who Kitaoka was. Look for Brooks to try to slam Tirloni to the canvas and pound him with shots on the ground. Tirloni's biggest weakness is his chin, which has failed him in the past and I have a bad feeling Brooks will crack it at some point in this fight, probably after a big takedown.
Final Prediction: Will Brooks via TKO in round two