David Rickels into lightweight semis


David Rickels is headed to another semifinals matchup in the Bellator Fighting Championships, this time as a lightweight.

Rickels, who advanced to the Season 6 welterweight semifinals but lost to Karl Amoussou, scored a unanimous decision over Lloyd Woodard in the main event of Bellator 87 on Thursday night in Mount Pleasant, Mich.

The former welterweight's size advantage seemed to have its effect on Woodard, who started the contest well but appeared tired in the second round. All three judges scored the bout 29-28 for Rickels. ESPN.com scored it 30-27 for Rickels.

Woodard (12-3) had success early pressing the action on Rickels (12-1). He took Rickels back in the opening minutes of the fight and landed some good shots from top position while fending off a few submission attempts.

It was Rickels, however, who finished the round strong, landing a few hard left hands after he reversed position and put Woodard on his back.

Momentum was clearly on Rickels side in the second round, as Woodard came out far less aggressive. He managed to knock down Rickels with a counter jab midway through the round, but failed to do anything on top position.

The right hand became a major weapon for Rickels in the final round, as Woodard continuously dropped his hands during exchanges. He eventually finished the fight again on top position, but it was too little, too late.

Rickels advances to a semifinal matchup against Alexander Sarnavskiy. On the other side of the tournament bracket, late replacement Saad Awad will meet rising prospect Will Brooks.

Brooks' defense better than Tirloni's offense

Ricardo Tirloni attempted just about every submission in the book in his Bellator tournament quarterfinal bout. Will Brooks defended all of them.

Brooks booked his ticket to the lightweight semifinals with a unanimous decision win over Tirloni, during which he looked quite comfortable in the Brazilian's guard.

Tirloni threatened with multiple submissions in every round, but Brooks kept his composure and maintained top control throughout. Judges scored all three rounds unanimously for Brooks.

"I don't even know what to say," Brooks said. "I'm just happy to be here -- happy to get the opportunity. I've been working my butt off for this."

Brooks got off to a fast start on his feet, landing early kicks to the leg and body. After giving up a takedown, Tirloni showcased his ground skills with several triangle attempts off his back. He appeared close to catching Brooks twice, only to have him pop out and score points with ground and pound.

It was more of the same in the second round, during which Brooks timed a beautiful double-leg takedown to plant Tirloni on his back. Tirloni again searched for a leglock and guillotine to no avail.

As unpleasant as a knee to the groin is, Brooks may have been lucky to receive one midway through the second round. Brooks had lost a little bounce in his step and had taken a few hard shots when he received a short rest after Tirloni caught him with an accidental low shot.

Cardio was not an issue the rest of the way, as Brooks cruised through the final round en route to the win.

Brooks (9-0) remains unbeaten in his MMA career. Tirloni (15-4) loses for the third time in his last four fights.

Awad does quick work in first round

Preparation is overrated if you're Saad Awad.

Fighting on less than one week's notice for the injured Patricky Freire, Awad scored a TKO over Guillaume DeLorenzi in just 31 seconds with a left hook to the chin.

When asked if he felt it was a statement to the rest of the 155-pound tournament field, Awad answered, "Most definitely."

"I'm a darkhorse," Awad said. "I'm coming to take it."

Known for early finishes, Awad landed two hard left hooks as DeLorenzi stepped forward on a leg kick attempt. A follow-up straight right hand had DeLorenzi dazed and staggering toward the fence.

Smelling blood, Awad moved forward with the left hook that sealed DeLorenzi's night. The Canadian lightweight latched onto referee Jason Herzog as he waved off the fight.

Awad (13-4) now has won five straight. The California-based lightweight lost his only other Bellator fight via submission in 2009. DeLorenzi (10-2) sees a five-fight win streak snapped.

Sarnavskiy shows submission skills

Alexander Sarnavskiy advanced to the Bellator lightweight semifinals with a second-round submission win over Thiago Michel.

The rear-naked choke that ended the fight at the 3:43 mark wasn't a shock considering Sarnavskiy's submission skills, but the action-packed first round was.

Sarnavskiy (22-1) opened the 155-pound contest with an overhand right that had Michel, a formidable striker, visibly hurt. Sarnavskiy chose not to swarm Michel at that moment, but he continued to dominate the round with his standup.

Momentum appeared to swing in Michel's favor late in the first when he used an outside trip to get Sarnavskiy to the floor. The Brazilian went for a late guillotine choke, but time expired.

Things continued going well for Sarnavskiy in the second round, as he again walked Michel down with overhand rights. The Russian finally chose to slow down the pace with a long takedown attempt against the fence.

After securing the takedown midway through the round, it was only a matter of time before Sarnavskiy took his opponent's back and fit in the choke.

Sarnavskiy, 24, improves his Bellator record to 2-1. His only loss came via split decision to Rich Clementi in October. Michel (11-4) falls to 0-2 overall in Bellator.