For Bellator lightweight Alexander “Tiger” Sarnavskiy, growing up in Russia may have as much of an impact in the way he’s become one of the top young lightweight fighters in MMA.
“Maybe Russians are so tough because some of them didn’t have an easy life,” said Sarnavskiy. “So, basically, life made them tough, otherwise they wouldn’t be able to make it to become not just an MMA fighter, but a good one who competes on the international stage.”
Sarnavskiy also feels his childhood influences the way he fights angry because, “When I was a kid, I was bullied very often by older kids. So I have this in me. And during the fight it comes out.”
Anger, however, is not the only thing that drives Sarnavskiy in a fight. He credits his coach and fellow Bellator fighter Alexander Shlemenko for helping him continue to develop his skills following the only loss of his career this past October to Rich Clemente in controversial split-decision fashion.
“I consider myself a well-rounded fighter, and I’m working hard on improving all aspects of my game,” said Sarnavskiy. “So what you’re going to see is a vastly improved version of myself. I’ll be better in everything: striking, wrestling, submissions and conditioning.”
Considering how well regarded Sarnavskiy already is, an improved version could be even more dangerous for anyone facing him in this season’s Bellator lightweight tournament, starting with former UFC welterweight Marcus Davis on Friday at Bellator 101 in Portland.
“I respect Marcus Davis as a fighter,” said Sarnavskiy. “He’s a real veteran, very experienced, and he’s fought a lot. He’s a tough, well-rounded fighter. What stands out to me about him is his good stand-up, his good takedown defense and his hard punches.
“However, Marcus always fights as a counter striker. He’s also older than me, so I think stamina would become a factor in our fight. Sometimes he rushes forward. I’ll fight him standing and put pressure on him; I won’t let him even take a breath. So as a result I would be able to use my stamina to finish him.”
While many have Sarnavskiy as the favorite to win the upcoming tournament, he told MMAWeekly.com that his focus is solely on the fight ahead and making sure that the fans will be truly entertained on Friday night.
“In this fight with Marcus Davis, I see my hand being raised at the end,” said Sarnavskiy. “This is the most important thing for me right now.
“The fans watching on SpikeTV will not be disappointed, and they will remember me. They will see a whole variety of MMA techniques and this will be a high paced fight with aggression on both sides – which is everything fans want to see in a high-level MMA fight.”