Bellator’s Saad Awad Talks Win Over Will Brooks: “He Fought Me Too Early And He Didn’t Respect My Punching Power”
By Kelsey Mowatt
If Bellator fans weren’t familiar with the name Saad Awad heading into the promotion’s latest lightweight tournament, they certainly are now, as the veteran fighter has needed less than two minutes to blast his way to the competition’s final. For the man who was originally set to fight Jason Fischer in a non-tournament bout, and for the possibility of competing in a future competition, it’s been a violent and dramatic turn of events.
“That was a big part of it because it’s been hard,” Awad said on the latest episode of Full Contact Fighter Radio, while discussing the emotional post-fight interview he gave following his quick knockout of lightweight Will Brooks. “You know what I mean? Especially fighting for local shows and you get your chance; I felt like I had my chance with Bellator when I first started.”
After going 7-2 to start his professional career, Awad was signed to fight for Bellator in 2009, but lost by submission to Deigo Garijo. After incurring another tap-out loss to Joe Duarte at a Strikeforce card in April, 2011, Awad spent the last two years competing on the local circuit, before getting called back to Bellator.
“I fought, and I fought my heart out, and ended up losing; I gassed myself out and lost,” Awad noted about his first bout with Bellator. “I wasn’t training the way I should have been like I am now. I thought I was. Then after that I got another shot because they called me to fight for Strikeforce. I thought cool, and then I go over there and broke my hand in the fight, and lose to Joe Duarte in the second round.”
“So that was another time where I thought I had a chance and they kicked me to the curb,” the 29 year-old-fighter added. “They never called me back. So I thought there goes another big opportunity…then they called me for “The Ultimate Fighter”, but they wanted me to fight at 170, and I was walking around at around 168; I said screw it, let’s do it…I was the smallest guy there, got bullied, and I lost to get in the house. So I was like man, I’ve had my chance with every big show there is and I feel like I blew it. So it’s been really hard.”
Awad (14-4) took his training to a new level following his setbacks with Strikeforce and TUF, and earned another run with Bellator by winning four straight bouts. Although the fighter was confident in his abilities to defeat Guillaume DeLorenzi and then Brooks, as he worked his way through the tournament’s opening rounds, he understands why some observers may have overlooked his chances.
“I think that’s exactly what people do and I don’t blame them,” said Awad, while discussing the fact that observers often look at a fighter’s overall record, rather than review how they’ve performed more recently. “I used to do the same thing, but this is MMA, it’s not boxing…people can’t really get those great records unless you’re fighting, nothing against Brazil or overseas, but it seems like it’s easier over there to pad your record, and come over here with a 20-1 record.”
While Awad turned heads with his 31 second stoppage win over DeLorenzi, who is one of Canada’s top lightweights, his 43 second KO of Brooks on February 28th grabbed even more headlines. Brooks was coming off impressive wins over Satoru Kitaoka and Ricardo Tirloni, and is viewed by many as one of the lightweight division’s most promising commodities.
“I know I’m the better mixed-martial-artist,” said Awad. “Yeah he’s a top prospect, but I believe he still has a ways to become a great fighter, which I believe he will be. He has all the skills to be one and he’s growing quick in the sport. I believe he fought me too early and he didn’t respect my punching power. It happens. People get caught.”
Up next, Awad will take on former welterweight Dave Rickels, for a chance to win $100,000 and secure a shot at Bellator’s lightweight title.
“He’s a big 55 pounder and I know he’s a bit taller than me,” said Awad. “I fought at 170 and 85 before, I usually can match strength with anybody at 155, so I’m pretty sure I can match his strength if not be stronger than him.”
“He’s a grinder, he’s going to come and grind, but I had cardio issues in the past because I wasn’t training right, I was out partying all the time…I can’t even remember the last time I partied…I know he’s going to come and bring it so I’m excited about it.”
The date of the lightweight finale between Awad and Rickels has yet to be announced.