Bellator 101: Despite Breakout Season, Saad Awad Wasn’t Sure Another Tourney Invite Would Come
By Kelsey Mowatt
Although Saad Awad has been competing professionally since 2006, and has fought for big stage organizations in the past, the vet introduced himself to considerably more fans this past spring during Bellator’s lightweight tourney. Not only did the Millenia MMA fighter record two quick stoppage wins to advance to the tourney finals, but in the semis, Awad knocked out rising prospect Will Brooks. The punishing striker had fought for less than two minutes total in the competition, before he was stopped by David Rickels in the finals.
Despite his impressive performances, however, Awad recently relayed on Full Contact Fighter Radio that he wasn’t 100% certain he’d be tapped to fight in Bellator’s Season 9 tourney. The competition gets underway at Bellator 101 this Friday in Portland, Oregon.
“It was in the back of my head; you know what I mean?” Awad said. “I know they do scout a lot of fighters from all around, and I know one thing that they do look at, they try to get guys with great records. They always have guys with really good records coming into the tournament.”
“I know my record’s not that good considering all these other guys,” added Awad, who has put together a 14-5 record to date. “So I always kind of knew that they have so many other guys that they can choose from, I wouldn’t have been surprised, I couldn’t be mad at it (Bellator)if they didn’t keep me in the tournament. They could have told me ‘go fight one and if you win that we’ll put you in the next tournament’…honestly it wouldn’t have come as a surprise to me.”
Awad was eventually booked to compete in the competition, and this Friday he’ll face Martin Stapleton in the opening round. The British fighter has gone 12-1 to date, and competed in the ninth season of “The Ultimate Fighter”, which featured teams from the U.S. and the U.K. The only man to defeat Stapleton to date in an official fight is UFC vet Paul Sass.
“I watched a couple of his fights and he seems tough, pretty aggressive, and that’s pretty much it,” Awad noted when asked what he knows about Stapleton, who hasn’t fought since he scored a decision win over Tommy Maguire at a Cage Contender’s show last December. “He has a pretty solid stand-up game. I think he’s a pretty well rounded fighter.”
The upcoming tourney will also feature UFC vets like Marcus Davis, Rich Clementi and John Alessio, the latter of which will be making his Bellator debut. In addition to signing Alessio, Bellator made headlines recently by adding the likes of Tito Ortiz, “Rampage” Jackson and Cheick Kongo, among others, to it’s roster.
“I’ve fought in a lot of good organizations and I know what it’s like to go to a big organization and lose and then not get called back,” said Awad, while discussing Bellator’s recent moves. “To go again, get a chance and to lose, and get called back, I think it’s a great thing because if they start looking past these veterans, and they just keep giving these new guys chances the veterans have no choice but to hang em up…if they can’t get big fights anymore and they have to keep fighting on small shows, there goes their career.”
“Sometimes you put so much work into this sport, and then you have a couple of bad fights and no one wants to sign you, you’re fighting for pocket change and you can’t support your family. Then you have to give up what you love, and what you’ve sacrificed for the last ten years, because nobody wants to sign you.”
Bellator 101 will be hosted by Portland’s Rose Garden Arena and the main card will be broadcast on SPIKE.