Bellator 109: Brooks Says “Free Flowing” Approach Key to Beating “Tiger”, Concedes Things Got “Personal” Versus Awad
By Kelsey Mowatt
Having scored unanimous decision wins over John Alessio and Saad Awad in Bellator’s latest lightweight tourney, Will Brooks will look to win the grueling competition Friday night, when he battles Alexander “Tiger” Sarnavskiy. Brooks turned to his pronounced athleticism and wrestling skills to defeat the dangerous Alessio and Awad, and “Ill Will” plans to do the same against another documented finisher.
“That’s definitely something I used to my advantage,” Brooks noted on Full Contact Fighter Radio recently, when asked if his grappling skills could play a big part in defeating “Tiger.” “Like everyone, we all have certain things that we may be better at than other things. I’m not saying I’m not good at everything, but of course, being that I come from a wrestling background, my wrestling has been predominant in my tool kit.”
Sarnavskiy has certainly lived up to the hype that accompanied his Bellator arrival, as the Russian fighter has gone 4-1 under the promotion’s banner. In the Bellator Season 9 tourney, Sarnavskiy has quickly tapped out established vets in Ricardo Tirloni and Marcus Davis, to enhance a record that is replete with finishes.
“I don’t believe it’s as dominant in “Tiger’s” toolkit,” added Brooks, while referring to the 24 year-old’s wrestling pedigree. “So if it comes down to that, if it’s part of my strategy to initialize a lot of grappling I’ll do that. But right now I’m just going to really focus on being a freestyle fighter, you know, just take it one step at a time. Just kind of flow with the entire fight…whatever game plan kind of takes place in the fight, I’ll go with that, but right now I’m just really focused on being a very free flowing, freestyle type of guy.”
At Bellator 105 last month, not only did Brooks score a win in the tourney semifinals by defeating Awad, but he avenged the only loss of his career to date (Awad KO’d Brooks at Bellator 91 in February). Heading into the rematch, Brooks said his motives were professional, but now the 27 year-old concedes things also got personal.
“At first, it was very much just a professional type of deal but after a while, after hearing some of his interviews and some of the things he was saying leading up to the fight, it went from being professional for me to becoming more of a personal thing,” Brooks said . “It kind of turned into a little bit of animosity.”
“It was one of those things were I did have animosity because it was my first loss,” Brooks furthered. “I really wanted to go out there and just make him look bad for 15 minutes and I think I did a great job of that. One of our main goals was to frustrate him and really put on display my control, and I think I did a good job of that. Just going back and reflecting on some of the things he was doing during the fight, screaming and yelling, throwing his hands up, showing frustration, and I personally took that as a victory.”
Bellator 109 will be hosted by the Sands Casino Event Center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and will also feature middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko taking on Doug Marshall. Friday’s main card will be broadcast on SPIKE.