The opening in the Bellator lightweight tournament is as wide as ever now that Alexander “Tiger” Sarnavskiy has withdrawn from the tournament due to injury. Once seen as the favorite to win, Sarnavskiy’s departure leaves the tournament’s field seemingly as even as possible.

Jason Fischer replaces Sarnavskiy against a tough David Rickels in the semifinals at Bellator 91. Fischer, while he may be getting his shot here in the semifinals, doesn’t really have much of a chance to make a statement and win the right to face Bellator champion Michael Chandler at the end of the tournament.

Fischer is a finisher, having won all of his fights by knockout or submission, but his lone loss comes against Rickels, the man he is facing. Rickels was able to outpoint Fischer on his way to a decision win, and this fight just took place last November. Things haven’t changed much, and the fight should virtually go the same way as it did the first time. Granted, the fight was a 160-pound catchweight bout, but after Rickels found his groove in the second and third round, Fischer was almost finished more than once on the ground.

That said, now that Sarnavskiy is out of the tournament, the fighter with the best shot to win is prospect Will Brooks. Brooks, in his last fight, was able to take down Ricardo Tirloni at will. If he advances to the finals and faces Rickels, this will most certainly be the case again.

Rickels didn’t display great takedown defense against Lloyd Woodard, and Brooks will almost definitely look to exploit that if they meet in the finals later this year. Brooks has been a big prospect for Bellator so far and, with a perfect 9-0 record, it isn’t hard to see why he is seen as such.

Brooks has to get past Saad Awad first. If he does so, it pretty much opens up the tournament in his favor. His skill set leaves him with favorable match-ups from this point on in the tournament. Brooks is a good wrestler with some pretty good ground-and-pound that can weaken anybody in this tournament.

With a field that no longer features a “Tiger” stalking his prey, the path to the Bellator lightweight tournament finals and a title bid against Chandler is now lined with much less peril. And Brooks, with his skill set, should be capable of taking full advantage of the situation. However, as is always the case in Bellator’s tournament format, anything is possible.

Photo: David Rickels (R) (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

About The Author

Sal DeRose
Staff Writer

Sal hails from New Jersey and is currently training for his first MMA fight. He hopes to use his knowledge and insight to generate articles that interest and entertain you. Outside of MMA, Sal is a big fan of every other sport. He's a diehard New York sports fan, with the exception of cheering for the Packers.