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Setting the stage: Bellator 81 Season 7 Lightweight Tournament Semifinals
Main Event: Rich “No Love” Clementi (45-25-1) vs Marcin Held (14-2)
With the long-awaited UFC Welterweight Championship Unification Fight between Georges St. Pierre and Carlos Condit happening a day later, it is very easy to overlook this main event, but it only requires a deeper look to see that it is rare to see a fight with so much subtext. Marcin Held, at only 20 years old, has been heralded by many hardcore MMA fans as the next submission phenom to keep an eye out for at 155. Nearly half of his wins have been by submission, and Held seems to especially enjoy his leglocks. But Rich Clementi is another who has claimed over half of his MMA victories by submission, and has seen more than 4 times the amount of fights that Marcin Held has. At 35 years old, his career may be beginning to wind down, but with his recent success, it is tough to say. Either way, Bellator fans are looking at a hardened veteran taking on an up-and-comer who both have some serious submission credentials behind them.
Clementi has been seeing a bit of a resurgence lately, winning 3 of his last 4 (2 of which were by submission), including his split decision victory over Alexander Sarnavskiy, which earned him this spot in the semifinals. While Held has bounced back nicely from his loss to Bellator Lightweight Champion Michael Chandler with 4 straight victories (2 of which were by leg-lock submission). It is certain that Held would love to avenge his loss to Chandler by taking his Lightweight Championship, and it is also certain that a Bellator Lightweight Championship reign would be one excellent way to cap off such a storied career for Rich Clementi.
What do these two submission wizards have in store for one another? Who will face the winner of Dave Jansen and Ricardo Tirloni? Will Rich Clementi continue his career resurgence or will Marcin Held continue his winning streak on his way up the ranks?
Dave “The Fugitive” Jansen (18-2) vs Ricardo Tirloni (15-2)
The story within this season’s semifinals tend to be submission wizards, as both Jansen and Tirloni have claimed most of their victories by submission, and both of them earned their way into the semifinals with their submission skills. Dave Jansen defeated Magomed Saadulaev via guillotine choke, and Ricardo Tirloni bounced back from his loss to Rick Hawn when he defeated Renê Nazare via D’arce Choke. Records can be deceptive, but both fighters have only been beaten by top level fighters, as Jansen has only been beaten by current Featherweight contender Ricardo Lamas and former UFC/WEC mainstay Kamal Shalorus, both via decision. While Tirloni has only tasted defeat at the hands of current UFC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson and Season 6 Tournament winner Hawn.
Jansen’s submission skills are mostly a result of his solid wrestling base, while Ricardo Tirloni utilizes his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, allowing for a submission fighter’s clash between American wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. This is if the fight even gets to the ground, as MMA’s unpredictability knows no bounds.
Will Tirloni’s BJJ skills carry him to victory, or will Jansen increase his win streak to 5? Who will meet grizzled veteran Rich Clementi or Polish prodigy Marcin Held in the Season 7 finals? Who wants their shot at Michael Chandler’s Lightweight Championship the most? Tune in and find out!