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Davis to begin Bellator MMA lightweight tournament quest Sept. 27 in Oregon

Russ Dillingham | Sun Journal
Russ Dillingham | Sun Journal
Bangor's Marcus Davis closes in on Waachiim Spiritwolf during the May 16 Bellator MMA fight at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston.
By Ernie Clark, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Marcus Davis signed a contract extension with Bellator MMA in early May.

Now “The Irish Hand Grenade” knows his destination for the first step of that deal.

Davis will fight Russian submission specialist Alexander “Tiger” Sarnavskiy at the Rose Garden in Portland, Ore., on Friday, Sept. 27, in the first round of Bellator’s Season 9 fall lightweight tournament.

The Davis-Sarnavskiy bout is one of four opening-round contests in the lightweight tournament that will be part of the Bellator 101 card, which will be broadcast live beginning at 9 p.m. on Spike TV.

“You only get a couple of chances at something like this,” said Davis, “and this is my last chance because I’ll be 40 before I fight this Russian kid.

“But when they sent me the contract to fight this guy, my reply was something that I’ve always wanted to say being a conservative — I’m going to beat this Russian like Ronald Reagan.”

Davis, who will turn 40 on Aug. 24, is 22-9 after his three-round unanimous decision victory over Darrius Heyliger as the headliner of NEF 7 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston on May 18.

That bout was fought in the welterweight (170-pound) division, but Davis has said he would have no difficulty in getting down to the 155-pound lightweight limit in order to compete in the Bellator tournament — the winner of which earns $100,000 and a guaranteed shot at the promotion’s lightweight champion, currently Michael Chandler.

“Right now I’m in the process of slowly getting my weight down by upping my cardio,” said Davis. “I’ve been doing strength training, but now I’ll stop that because I don’t need to be any stronger because I’ll always be stronger than 99 percent of the lightweights.”

Davis plans to spend two weeks in August working on more technical aspects of his game at three Boston-area gymnasiums, then return home for two weeks before heading back to Boston for his final stages of training in the two weeks leading up to the fight.

This will be Davis’ second bout with Bellator. His fight against Waachim Spiritwolf in Lewiston on March 21 was declared a no contest after an unintentional knee near the groin during the first round left Spiritwolf unable to continue.

The 24-year-old Sarnavskiy, from Omsk, Russia, is 23-1 with 13 wins by submission.

“They don’t play around over there,” said Davis. “Once they discover what you’re good at, that’s your life. As opposed to me who has four kids and a million things to do, basically he’s been born and bred to beat me up.”

Sarnavskiy has won his last three fights since suffering his only loss by split decision last Oct. 19 in Reading, Pa., to veteran Rich Clementi — a former Ultimate Fighting Championship competitor.

“He’s never been truly beaten,” said Davis. “I look at being beaten as either by submission or knockout and his only loss was a split decision on the judges’ scorecards.”

Clementi (45-22-1) also will be part of the Bellator lightweight tourney, fighting England’s Rob Sinclair (12-2) in another first-round match on the Rose Garden card.

Other first-round Bellator lightweight tournament fights set for Sept. 27 will match Will Brooks (10-1) against UFC veteran John Alessio (34-16) and Saad Awad (14-5) against Martin Stapleton (12-1).

Boetsch slated for UFC 166 bout

Lincolnville native Tim “The Barbarian” Boetsch will attempt to end a two-match losing streak on Oct. 19 when he has been scheduled to battle former Strikeforce champion Luke Rockhold in a middleweight (185-pound) bout as part of UFC 166 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Tx.

Boetsch (16-6) is coming off a three-round unanimous decision loss to Mark Munoz at UFC 162 in Las Vegas on July 6.

The former four-time wrestling state champion from Camden-Rockport High School in Rockport, who now lives in Sunbury, Pa., had won four straight fights after dropping from the light heavyweight division to middleweight in 2011 before losing by third-round technical knockout (punches) to Costa Philippou at UFC 155 last Dec. 29, also in Las Vegas.

Boetsch’s next opponent also is looking for a rebound victory, as Rockhold dropped his UFC debut in May to Vitor Belfort via first-round knockout after winning his nine previous bouts.

Rockhold (10-2) currently is ranked seventh among UFC middleweights, while Boetsch was ranked 10th before his loss to the eighth-rated Munoz.

UFC 166 will be headlined by a heavyweight title fight between reigning champion Cain Velasquez — a teammate of Rockhold at the American Kickboxing Academy — and Junior dos Santos.

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