Cris Cyborg Knocks Out Sinead Kavanagh to Retain Bellator’s Women’s Featherweight Title

Less than two minutes… That’s the time it took Cris Cyborg to roll past her latest opponent.

The 36-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist, Bellator’s women’s featherweight champion, was as dominant as ever in defending her belt for the third time, knocking out Sinead Kavanagh in the first round of the Bellator 271 main event on Friday night in Hollywood, Florida.

Cris "Cyborg" Justino

This fight looked like most of the fights during Cyborg’s 16-year pro career. She came out blitzing Kavanagh, trapping her against the cage and unleashing punches that within the first minute had bloodied her face.

Kavanagh (7-5), a 35-year-old from Ireland who trains in the same SBG Dublin gym as Conor McGregor, did manage to get her back off the cage and, relying on her background as an amateur boxer, she began trading punches with Cyborg, which wasn’t the best idea.

A right hand wobbled the challenger and another right sent her crashing to the canvas, flat on her back. Referee Jason Herzog immediately jumped in to wave off the fight as a knockout at 1 minute, 32 seconds of Round 1.

For Cyborg (25-2, 1 NC), a former 145-pound champion in the UFC, Strikeforce and Invicta FC promotions, it was her fifth straight win and the 11th first-round knockout of her career.

Cyborg, who lives and trains in Southern California, has just one loss in her past 27 fights, a run of success that extends back to her pro MMA debut in 2005.

In an interview afterward inside the cage, Cyborg, who was a 25-1 betting favorite, smiled as she apologized to her coaches.

“I’m sorry, my team,” she said. “I didn’t do anything that we planned.”

Then Cyborg put this virtuosic performance behind her and shifted her focus to her next title defense. She mentioned that she had called for a fight with former UFC title challenger Cat Zingano, who has won two fights since signing with Bellator two years ago.

“But I leave it to Scott Coker,” Cyborg said, referring to the Bellator president. “I don’t choose fights.”

However, a fight might end up choosing her. Cyborg was reminded that among those in the crowd at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino was two-time PFL lightweight champion Kayla Harrison, who is a free agent and has been checking out her options. She was at UFC 268 last Saturday. On Friday night, she was at Bellator 271.

“Kayla, thanks for coming to the fights. I really appreciate you’re here,” Cyborg said to Harrison, a 2012 and 2016 Olympic gold medalist in judo. “I’m here. If you want to fight me one day, it’s gonna be a great fight.”

Justin Gonzales to Fight Aaron Pico at Bellator’s Bellator 271 in November

Justin Gonzales is readying for battle…

The 30-year-old Latino mixed martial artist and Aaron Pico, two of Bellator MMA‘s top featherweight prospects, have agreed to meet at Bellator 271 on November 12, according to ESPN.

Justin GonzalesThe promotion is finalizing the details for the bout between Gonzales and Pico, which will take place at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. The event will air on Showtime. Tickets are expected to go on sale next week.

Pico (8-3) will be seeking his second win of 2021 and fifth consecutive overall. The 25-year-old Latino featherweight made his pro debut in 2017 under extremely high expectations, and got off to a somewhat disappointing 4-3 record. Fighting out of JacksonWink MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he has looked phenomenal during this win streak with four straight finishes.

Gonzales (12-0), of Greeley, Colorado, picked up a split decision win against Tywan Claxton in his Bellator debut in June. Gonzalez, 30, is undefeated since turning pro in 2016. He enjoyed a successful amateur career prior to that dating back to 2012.

Patricky “Pitbull” Freire to Fight Peter Queally for His Brother’s Vacated Bellator Men’s Lightweight Title

Patricky “Pitbull” Freire is hoping to keep it in the family…

The 35-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist is set to fight Peter Queally on November 5 in Ireland for the Bellator men’s lightweight title.

Patricky “Pitbull” Freire

The announcement comes on the heels of news that Patricky’s brother Patricio “Pitbull” Freire has vacated his lightweight title, according to Bellator president Scott Coker.

Coker announced the news on The MMA Hour.

Patricio dropped his featherweight title to AJ McKee on July 31. Patricio said on The MMA Hour that he will now turn focus to getting the McKee rematch at featherweight, which opens the door for his brother to become lightweight champion.

“First thing is, I lost the featherweight division,” Patricio said. “For me, it doesn’t make sense to be a champion in the lightweight division. If I lost at 145 pounds, I can’t be the champion at 155.”

Queally (13-5-1), an SBG Ireland product, is coming off a second-round TKO (doctor’s stoppage) over Patricky “Pitbull,” a result that Freire’s team disputed at the time. Patricky (23-10) has dropped two straight.

Cris Cyborg to Defend Bellator Featherweight Title Against Sinead Kavanagh

Cris Cyborg is going on the defensive…

The 36-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist, one of Bellator’s top stars, will defend her belt next month.

Cris CyborgBellator president Scott Coker announced on The MMA Hour that Cyborg will defend her women’s featherweight title against Sinead Kavanagh on November 12 in Hollywood, Florida.

Cyborg (24-2, 1 NC) is one of the greatest women’s fighters in MMA history.

The Brazil native, who fights out of California, is 3-0 in Bellator, beating Julia Budd for the women’s featherweight title in January 2020.

Cyborg has lost just once since her pro debut in 2005, to UFC double champion Amanda Nunes.

Cyborg is the only MMA fighter to win titles in four major promotions: UFC, Strikeforce, Bellator and Invicta FC.

Kavanagh (7-4) has won two in a row. The 35-year-old Ireland native, who trains out of SBG Ireland (Conor McGregor’s team in Dublin), is coming off a unanimous decision win over Katharina Lehner in October 2020.

Cris Cyborg Defeats Leslie Smith by TKO to Defend Bellator Women’s Featherweight Title

Cris Cyborg is keepin’ her title..

The 35-year-old Brazilian mixed martial, whose real name is Cristiane Justino Venâncio,

Cris Cyborg 

defended her Bellator women’s featherweight title, beating Leslie Smith by TKO at 4 minutes, 51 seconds of the fifth round in the main event of Bellator 259 on Friday night at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut.

It was a rematch of a 2016 bout that Cyborg finished via TKO in just 1:21.

Known for her violent, quick finishes, Cyborg previously had been deeper than the third round only three times in her career. Smith is only the second fighter to take Cyborg into the fifth round, joining former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm.

ESPN has Cyborg ranked No. 3 on its women’s MMA pound-for-pound list. Her only loss since her pro debut in 2005 came against Amanda Nunes, the UFC women’s bantamweight and featherweight champion.

In their first fight at UFC 198 five years ago, Smith disputed the stoppage as being too early. She got some measure of vindication Saturday night, but the outcome wasn’t really ever in doubt.

Cyborg dominated every round, landing big combinations and several impactful suplexes that sent Smith hard to the mat. Cyborg dropped Smith in four out of five rounds with punches. Many of Cyborg’s former opponents have folded after feeling her power, but Smith didn’t until the closing seconds.

“I knew she’s tough,” Cyborg said in her postfight interview. “I knew. I’ve met her before. I know her. I really respect her. She’s a real fighter.” With time expiring in the fifth round, Cyborg landed a crushing right hand that dropped Smith. She then followed up with big punches on the ground. Smith turned over and covered up, but Cyborg continued the onslaught, and referee Dan Miragliotta stepped in and waved it off.

Afterward, Cyborg called out former UFC title challenger Cat Zingano for her next title defense. Zingano is 2-0 in Bellator and coming off a finish last month.

Cyborg (24-2, 1 NC) picked up her second Bellator title defense Saturday night. The Brazil native, who trains out of Southern California, has won four straight overall. She has 19 career wins via KO/TKO in 24 victories. Cyborg is the only fighter in MMA history to win titles in four major promotions: UFC, Bellator, Strikeforce and Invicta FC.

Patricio “Pitbull” Freire Defeats Emmanuel Sanchez to Defend Bellator Featherweight Title

Patricio “Pitbull” Freire proves once again why he’s considered the best fighter in Bellator

The 33-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist and two-division champion, perhaps the top featherweight in all of MMA, handed Emmanuel Sanchez his first stoppage loss with a technical submission by guillotine choke in Round 1 to successfully defend his 145-pound title in the main event of Bellator 255 in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Patricio "Pitbull" Freire

The fight, which took place at Mohegan Sun Arena in front of no fans because of the coronavirus pandemic, was a semifinal in the Bellator Featherweight World Grand Prix.

Freire (32-4), who also reigns at lightweight, will take on unbeaten A.J. McKee in the final on a date to be determined.

Freire has won seven straight fights and has 20 wins overall in Bellator, the most ever in the promotion. He is one of only two fighters to become a Bellator double champion, along with heavyweight champ Ryan Bader, who used to also reign at light heavyweight. Freire is No. 4 in the ESPN men’s featherweight rankings.

Cris Cyborg to Defend Bellator Women’s Featherweight Title in Rematch Against Leslie Smith

Cris Cyborg is ready for her next challenger…

The 35-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist, whose real name is Cristiane Justino Venâncio, will put her Bellator women’s featherweight title on the line against Leslie Smith on May 21.

Cris Cyborg

Cyborg beat Smith in 2016 in what was Cyborg’s UFC debut. Cyborg (23-2, 1 NC) is one of the best female fighters of all time. She is coming off a second-round submission win over Arlene Blencowe last October. That was Cyborg’s first title defense.

Cyborg stopped Julia Budd by fourth-round TKO in January 2020 to win the title. That victory made Cyborg the first fighter to win titles in four major promotions: UFC, Bellator, Strikeforce and Invicta.

Since 2005, Cyborg has been defeated only by UFC double champion Amanda Nunes. Cyborg left the UFC when her contract expired in 2019 after a rocky tenure.

Smith (12-8-1) has won four of her past five fights. The California native is coming off a unanimous decision over Amanda Bell last September.

Smith was finished by Cyborg in 1:21 at UFC 198 on May 14, 2016, but disputed that, saying it was an early stoppage.

She is best known for her attempts to organize MMA fighters, who don’t have a union or association.

Yoel Romero Signs New Multi-Fight Deal with Bellator

Yoel Romero is preparing to fight for a new partner…

The 43-year-old Cuban mixed martial artist and former freestyle wrestler, and a multiple-time UFC title challenger, has agreed to a new multi-fight deal with Bellator, according to ESPN.

Yoel Romero

Romero is expected to sign his new deal imminently.

The deal comes less than two weeks after the UFC released Romero after more than seven years in the promotion.

Initially, Bellator officials passed on Romero, but after further talks, the two sides were able to come to an agreement.

Romero is expected to debut at 205 pounds, which is the weight class in which he started his career. His debut fight and date are not set yet.

His most recent fight was a loss to middleweight champion Israel Adesanya via unanimous decision in March. Both Romero and Adesanya received criticism after the fight because it did not live up to expectations.

Romero won a silver medal in freestyle wrestling at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. He made his MMA debut in 2009 and his UFC debut in 2013. He won his first eight fights inside the Octagon before losing an interim middleweight title fight to Robert Whittaker in July 2017. He fought for the interim or undisputed middleweight title four times but never won the UFC belt.

Juliana Velasquez Defeats Ilima-Lei Macfarlane by Unanimous Decision to Claim Bellator Women’s Flyweight Title

Juliana Velasquez is Bellator’s new flyweight queen.

The 34-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist beat Ilima-Lei Macfarlane via unanimous decision (48-47, 49-46, 48-47) to win the Bellator women’s flyweight title Thursday night in the main event of Bellator 254 at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Juliana Velasquez

Macfarlane had been the only women’s flyweight champion the promotion had known until now, after winning the belt in November 2017. Both women came in undefeated.

“To me, this is like a gold medal,” Velasquez said through an interpreter in her postfight interview.

ESPN had Macfarlane ranked No. 2 in the world at women’s flyweight coming in, just below UFC women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko.

 

Velasquez started off strong, though the first two rounds were close. A southpaw who was a Brazilian national-team-level judoka, she was able to keep Macfarlane at the end of her punches, particularly a nice straight left. Macfarlane attempted to blitz in for combinations and takedown attempts, but was mostly unsuccessful. At the end of the second, Macfarlane attempted a sacrifice throw against the cage, but it didn’t work — Velasquez ended up in top position on the ground.

Things started to pick up in Round 3. Macfarlane caught a Velasquez kick, starting a scramble. But Macfarlane fell head first against the cage, and it looked as though the fence opened up a cut across the top of her right eye area, just under her eyebrow. Velasquez then bloodied Macfarlane’s nose and mouth at the end of the round, connecting on a jumping knee.

Macfarlane was game, though. She was finally able to land a takedown on Velasquez late in the fourth round, where she delivered a nice volume of ground-and-pound. In the fifth, Macfarlane was not able to duplicate the feat. Velasquez stayed on her feet and once again took top position on a Macfarlane throw attempt. At the final bell, Velasquez landed a beautiful judo throw to seal it.

“At the end of the day, she just outperformed me,” Macfarlane said. “I think it was more like I didn’t find my groove until that [fourth-round] takedown. … Her game plan was spot on, though. She’s the champion, she deserves it.”

Judge Mike Bell scored the first, second, third and fifth rounds for Velasquez. Judge Sal D’Amato had Velasquez winning the first, third and fifth, and judge Bryan Minor had Velasquez winning the first, second and third.

Velasquez (11-0) has won all six of her Bellator fights. She was actually the slight favorite coming in, though she was the challenger.

Macfarlane (11-1) had won all 10 of her Bellator fights coming in. The Hawaii native, who lives and trains in California, had four title defenses, and if she had won Thursday she would have set Bellator’s title-defense record. Macfarlane, 30, had not been to a decision since 2016.

Juan Archuleta is Bellator’s New Bantamweight Champion

Juan Archuleta is officially a world titleholder…

The 33-year-old Spanish and Mexican American mixed martial artist, who has stayed mostly under the radar during a successful run that extends back half a decade, scored his highest-profile win in the main event of Bellator 246, defeating previously unbeaten Patchy Mix by unanimous decision to earn the vacant bantamweight championship.

Juan Archuleta

Archuleta (25-2) has won 19 of his past 20 bouts; his only loss during the run was a decision loss to two-division champion Patricio Freire a year ago. Freire, known as “Pitbull,” was defending his featherweight belt that night in the first round of the Bellator World Grand Prix tournament.

But now Archuleta finally wears a belt.

Two judges scored Saturday’s bout 48-47 and the other had it 49-46.

“Oh, my God,” Archuleta told Bellator’s John McCarthy in his post-fight interview inside the cage. “My family, John, they deserve this. My teammates, they deserve this, man. My country, Spain, where my ancestors come from, the fighting Spaniards, the conquistadors, they deserve this. They have fighting spirit. It shows in me.”

Archuleta, fighting out of Hesperia, California, had a rough first round and a half as Mix, who had finishes in each of his first three Bellator fights, repeatedly seized dominant grappling positions, threatening finishes.

But Archuleta persevered. He took control in Round 3 with body shots complemented by slick footwork. That kept him at long range, where Mix could no longer make the fight a grappling contest. For the rest of the fight, Archuleta was consistently first in launching strikes, and his incessant movement left Mix (13-1), a 27-year-old fighting out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, often swinging at air.

In Round 5, Archuleta sealed the deal, slowing Mix with a relentless attack of body punches. That secured for Archuleta a Bellator bantamweight title that had been vacant since Kyoji Horiguchi surrendered the championship last November while recovering from an injury.