67-Fight Veteran Advances to Bellator Lightweight Tournament Semifinals
In the final bout of the quarterfinal round of the Bellator Lightweight Tournament, 67-match veteran Rich Clementi (45-21) dished the formerly unbeaten Alexander Sarnavskiy (20-1) the first taste of defeat in the young Russian’s professional career. Clementi used his 13 years of cage savvy to frustrate his opposition on the way to a split decision victory, but Sarnavskiy did prove that his previously unblemished record was no fluke.
Sarnavskiy looked to start fast in this contest, throwing a spinning back kick in the early moments that earned a smile from the face of Clementi. The duo then began to jock for position near the fence until Clementi took the back of Sarnavskiy from the standing position. For nearly the next four minutes, he would remain clinging to the back of his opponent before the two fighters finally maneuvered to the canvas. As soon as this occurred, the remarkably patient Clementi locked in a guillotine choke attempt. With little room to breathe, Sarnavskiy was somehow able to ride out the final minute of the frame and survive all the way to the bell.
In the second stanza, Clementi quickly earned a takedown near the fence, and he once again took back control. He then applied a tight body clinch with his legs while going for some choke attempts, but Sarnavskiy was able to fight off those tries with good hand placement. With about a minute to go in the frame, the Russian was finally able to shake loose, but he then found himself vulnerable to an arm bar. However, he was able to block the advancement attempt, and he finished off the round with a series of hard strikes that hurt Clementi.
The third frame had a different feel at the beginning, with both fighters banging amid a stand-up exchange. Sarnavskiy was able to drop Clementi about 30 seconds into the final round, and he then postured from top control after winning a ground grapple. Knowing the experience of his opponent, Sarnavskiy was just a bit hesitant to throw any ill-timed strikes despite his advantageous position. Referee Mario Yamasaki eventually stood them both back up with just under two minutes remaining, but Clementi repeatedly stayed close to the canvas while Sarnavskiy tried as best he could to make it a stand-up scrap.
15 minutes would elapse in this outing without a victor, and the cageside judges then made their opinions known. After split 29-28s on the first two cards, a third tally determined Clementi to be the winner, and he now moves onto the next round of the Bellator Lightweight Tournament.
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