Bellator 87 went down Thursday night from Mount Pleasant, Mich. This time, the four-fight main card doubled as the entire quarterfinal round of Bellator's latest lightweight tournament. It all culminated with a grown man's battle between wild 155-pound animals Lloyd Woodard and David Rickels.
Here are quick-hit analyses for every performance and the next steps for every main-card winner and loser.
Everyone's going by nicknames now. It's very Brazilian. It always surprises me how easy it is to do that. If I ever fought, could I be announced as Wolverine Razor? Do I just go to the announcer and tell him ahead of time?
Alexander Sarnavskiy (22-1) didn't surprise me with his second-round chokeout of Thiago Michel. It was the Russian's 12th tapout victory. His next target is David Rickels in the tournament semifinals.
Thiago Michel didn't humiliate himself in there. But that's two Bellator defeats in a row for the Brazilian kickboxing champ.
For his next performance, I'd certainly watch him face Sarnavskiy's second most recent victim, fellow headhunter Tony Hervey.
Saad Awad peppered DeLorenzi with a few lefts. Then BAM! The right hook put DeLorenzi on roller skates; Awad finished it with lefts and there it was in the first round.
Pretty good win for Awad, who stepped in for an injured Patricky Freire with just a week's notice.
Up next: young upstart Will Brooks.
He didn't have much time to shine; Awad only let him stay conscious for 31 seconds.
But it's still just the second loss for the 28-year-old Canadian. Another prospect in need of a win, Magomed Saadulaev, would be a great next challenge.
In his Bellator debut Thursday, "Ill" Will Brooks probably made himself a fan or two.
Fighting for his adoptive mother, who recently lost a battle with cancer, Brooks, who hardcores might recognize from a December upset of Satoru Kitaoka in the DREAM promotion, simply manhandled Ricardo Tirloni, powering out of submission attempts and letting loose with powerful strikes, particularly with his left hand. It ran the 26-year-old's pro record to 9-0 and earned him a semifinal bout with Awad.
For a strong performance and an equally powerful backstory, Brooks gets my Salient Fighter of the Night award, which I just made up this second.
Tirloni didn't fight badly, throwing one submission attempt after another on Brooks, but simply couldn't muster the finishing leverage.
I'd like to watch him fight another wily vet like Mike Guymon.
Usually when you think about a slugfest, you think about, you know, slugging. As in striking. But this one was a slugfest of submissions. The pulse-pounding first round featured triangles, heel hooks and even a twister attempt. There were plenty of strikes as well. Few people expected this to last beyond three minutes, but it did, with Woodard gutting his way through a knee injury.
Despite the loss, Woodard (12-3) is still promising, still exciting and still just 27. I'd match him up with Rene Nazare.
The Caveman displayed superior stamina and some good, sharp striking in wearing down Woodard. He showed some great grappling, too. Another tough challenge awaits him in Sarnavskiy.