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Ricardo Tirloni vows to finish Alexander Sarnavskiy: ‘This is my tournament’

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Ricardo Tirloni takes on Alexander Sarnavskiy in the co-main event of Friday’s Bellator card in Rio Rancho, N.M., and he wants to stop the "Russian Invasion".

Sarnavskiy enters the cage riding a four-fight winning streak, the last three by way of submission, and the winner of this bout will advance to Bellator’s season 9 lightweight tournament final.

Tirloni is confident he will be that guy.

"My preparation was intense, as always," Tirloni told "I finished my camp two days before the fight, working on my strategy for my next opponent. His stand up game is his best weapon. He has a good right hand and good kicks, very unorthodox."

Tirloni and Sarnavskiy has won most of their fights via submission, but the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt believes his ground game is the better one.

"I believe I can submit him," he said. "I’ll keep the pressure all the time to make him make a mistake, and then I’ll catch him. I want to finish him, and I go for it all the time."

After back-to-back decision losses, Tirloni dominated Rich Clementi at Bellator 101 in the tournament quarterfinal. However, the fact that he defeated the only man to ever beat Sarnavskiy in MMA doesn’t make him more confident.

"My last fight made me more confident, but not because I won the only guy to beat him Sarnavskiy," he said. "That made me more confident because I’m back to the wins."

Bellator has 10 Russian fighters under contract today, including heavyweight kingpin Alexander Volkov, middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko, and tournament winners Andrey Koreshkov, Shahbulat Shamhalaev, Magomedrasul Khasbulaev and Vitaly Minakov.

"These Russians are really, really tough, but they have flaws in their games and the Brazilians are better," Tirloni said. "I believe that the fact that Bellator is bringing them is a great opportunity for us to do exciting fights.

"It’s all marketing for television, I don’t care much," he said about the "Russian Invasion" promo produced by Bellator. "I will win this fight for myself, my team and my friends. This is my tournament."