As the owner of an 11-fight winning streak, Ricardo Tirloni has grown accustomed to having his hand raised on fight night.
The 29-year-old Brazilian doesn’t expect much to change at Bellator 62, when he faces Rick Hawn in a lightweight tournament quarterfinal at the Laredo Energy Arena in Laredo, Texas, on Friday night. The eventual champion of the bracket receives a 155-pound title shot and a $100,000 payday.
“I see this fight ending with my arm raised, and the crowd going absolutely wild,” Tirloni recently told Sherdog.com. “I see myself coming out of this fight a little bit bruised and battered because I’m anticipating a war, but I also see myself coming out as the winner.”
Tirloni has not tasted defeat since falling victim to a guillotine choke from current UFC lightweight king Benson Henderson at a Maximum Fighting Championship event in July 2008. The Ataque Duplo product defeated Steve Gable with a rear-naked choke at 3:54 of round two in his Bellator debut last October and also owns notable victories over former WEC competitor Anthony Morrison and onetime UFC veteran Brian Cobb.
Hawn lost a split decision to Jay Hieron in Bellator’s Season 4 welterweight tournament finals last May, ending an 11-fight unbeaten streak for the Massachusetts resident. Hawn has notched victories over LeVon Maynard, Jim Wallhead and Lyman Good since joining the Chicago-based promotion in 2010. The 35-year-old judo practitioner finished in ninth place at the 2004 Olympic Games and has won numerous national medals in the sport.
Tirloni, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, is well aware of Hawn’s strengths and believes he has the skills to neutralize them in the cage.
“In this fight with Rick Hawn, I feel like my jiu-jitsu and muay Thai will be my greatest strengths. He has a judo background, so I think he will try to take me down and [use] ground-and-pound. He has heavy hands, and I have to be aware of this,” Tirloni said. “I’m not worried about [his] judo in this fight, because this is MMA, not judo. Even if he is able to take me down, I will use my Brazilian jiu-jitsu. I have a very good guard.”
Tirloni has avoided the judges’ scorecards in 12 of his 14 career triumphs to date, and he hopes to do the same against Hawn.
“I’m coming into this fight looking for the finish,” he said. “I can’t promise that I will finish Rick Hawn, but I can promise that I will be trying to finish him the entire time.”