Cris Cyborg to Make Professional Boxing Debut Against Simone de Silva

Cris Cyborg is switching sports…

The 37-year-old mixed martial artist’s next fight won’t be inside an MMA cage — it’ll be in a boxing ring against Simone de Silva.

Cris Cyborg

Cyborg, one of the best women’s MMA fighters of all time, said on her “The CatchupYouTube show Monday that was finalizing a contract for her professional boxing debut.

By Wednesday, that was done.

Cyborg shared on Instagram that she would be fighting de Silva at 154 pounds in the main event of a card on Sept. 25 in Cyborg’s hometown of Curitiba, Brazil.

“It’s one of my dreams,” the 37-year-old Cyborg, currently the Bellator women’s featherweight champion, said of boxing.

The fight will be an eight-round boxing match with two-minute rounds and contested with 8-ounce gloves.

Cyborg is currently a restricted free agent in an exclusive negotiating period with Bellator, and sources said Bellator president Scott Coker has given his support for this boxing match.

PFL had made public overtures about putting together a fight between Cyborg and the two-time Olympic judo gold medalist, with the implication that PFL could potentially sign Cyborg as a free agent.

 

Cyborg said she has not spoken with PFL at all at this point.

 

“No, we never have any talks with PFL,” Cyborg said. “We never talked about this fight. I know there’s a lot of talk on the internet about making this fight happens in different ways, but we’ve never had the talk about anything.”

Cyborg did not say she is disinterested in the Harrison matchup, but Cyborg has always been vocal about the positives of her relationship with Coker and Bellator, which she has touted as having the best women’s featherweight division in MMA.

Cyborg said on the show that if Cyborg vs. Harrison happens while she is still with

Bellator, that would be “great.”

“I’m open to the best fights for my fans,” Cyborg said.

Cyborg (26-2, 1 NC), whose real name is Cristiane Justino, is a former UFC, Strikeforce and Invicta FC women’s featherweight champion. She has four Bellator title defenses and has won six straight fights overall. Cyborg’s only loss since her pro debut in 2005 was to current UFC double champion Amanda Nunes in 2018.

Valerie Loureda Signs Multiyear Contract with WWE

It’s a whole new world for Valerie Loureda.

The 23-year-old Cuban American mixed martial artist, wrestler and pro fighter, a top women’s MMA prospect with Bellator, has signed a multiyear contract with World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE), according to ESPN.

Valerie LouredaLoureda plans to move to Orlando from Miami and report to the WWE Performance Center on July 19. She’ll remain under contract with Bellator, the promotion told ESPN in a statement, but now she’ll be a full-time WWE athlete.

“I’m an entertainer,” Loureda said “I love glamour. I love production, I love storytelling. And when I saw the WWE, I realized this is everything I’m good at in one place. Not only that, but I saw the opportunity to be the first Cuban American woman to be a WWE superstar.”

Loureda said she attended WrestleMania and immediately fell in love with the glitz and spectacle of WWE, comparing it to the Super Bowl. She had a tryout in late April and early May with WWE and became so addicted with performing in the ring that she didn’t want to leave even though she hadn’t been signed yet. Loureda said she actually called her manager, Abe Kawa of First Round Management, crying.

“I said, ‘Abraham, I know I don’t have a contract, but is there any way I can stay here? I’m losing a week of training,'” Loureda said. “I just want to get better.”

WWE coaches praised Loureda’s ability, according to ESPN, and view her as a high-ceiling talent after her tryout, which included a match. Loureda signed with WWE soon after. She will remain under Bellator contract, though, per promotion president Scott Coker.

“Valerie Loureda is a very young and talented athlete who can accomplish plenty in MMA for years to come, but for now we wish her the best of luck as she pursues her dream of becoming a WWE Superstar,” Coker told ESPN in a statement. “She will remain an active and under contract fighter with Bellator, and we look forward to welcoming her back into the cage in the near future. We take great pride in allowing our athletes to test themselves in additional arenas such as boxing and pro wrestling.”

Up until the last few months, Loureda said she was committed to her MMA career with Bellator. But earlier this year, Loureda’s manager was having a conversation with former UFC executive James Kimball about WWE’s name, image and likeness (NIL) deal with AJ Ferrari, a college wrestler repped by First Round. Kawa brought up Loureda and Kimball, WWE’s senior vice president of global talent strategy & development, was interested.

Kimball suggested Kawa bring Loureda to WrestleMania, but Loureda initially was not interested. She wanted to focus on her MMA career.

“I had to beg her to come out to WrestleMania with me,” Kawa said. “I kept telling her over and over again, just trust me. When you come see this, this is you. I would never take you to something that’s not you. This is everything for you. You will fall in love with it. And she did.”

Loureda said she was sold almost instantly when she arrived at AT&T Stadium in Texas for WrestleMania 38 in early April.

“The moment I stepped into the suite and I saw the WWE organization, the professionalism and the production, I fell in love,” Loureda said. “I had goosebumps like the first time I saw MMA on the TV.”

Loureda, who is 4-1 as a pro fighter and projected to be a future star for Bellator, said her goal is to make NXT television by the end of the year and be on the WWE main roster within one year.

“I have big goals and I’m a little crazy,” Loureda said with a laugh. … “I just know what I’m gonna be able to do in the WWE. There’s no limits. I’m limitless.”

Patricio Freire Outlasts AJ McKee to Reclaim Bellator Featherweight Title

Patricio Freire has his title back…

The 34-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist, Bellator‘s franchise fighter, gutted out a unanimous decision win (49-46, 48-47, 48-47) over previously undefeated prodigy AJ McKee to win back the featherweight title in the main event of Bellator 277 on Friday night in San Jose, California.

Patricio FreireMcKee beat Freire, known as “Pitbull,” for the title via submission in just 1:57 of the first round last July.

Freire is now a three-time Bellator featherweight champion.

“That day, I came in peace,” Freire said, referring to his loss to McKee last summer. “Today, I came for war. And I’m bringing the belt home.”

It was a hard-fought, close battle between two of the best fighters in the world outside the UFC. ESPN had McKee ranked No. 3 and “Pitbull” ranked No. 5 in the world at featherweight coming in.

There was plenty of talk leading into this fight about how McKee, a 27-year-old whom many believe is a future superstar, would fare in a fight with UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski.

But “Pitbull” silenced those discussions Friday night. He did solid work in the early rounds, peppering McKee with leg kicks and punching combinations. In the third, he dropped McKee briefly with an overhand right and grabbed a tight guillotine.

McKee was able to escape that submission and do some of his best work in the late rounds. McKee landed solid combinations in the fourth round and several takedowns in the fifth, nearly getting Freire’s back at one point. In the closing minutes, McKee did his most damage, landing combos with his hands, a takedown and a hard elbow against the cage.

“He’s a tough guy,” Freire said. “He’s a great opponent. It was a hard fight to me.”

Freire (33-5) has won eight of his past nine bouts, including a 61-second knockout of current UFC lightweight contender Michael Chandler at lightweight back in 2019.

The Brazil native held both the Bellator featherweight and lightweight titles from 2019 to 2021. He lost the featherweight belt to McKee and relinquished the lightweight gold last November to focus on featherweight.

Freire has the most wins (21), the most featherweight wins (20) and the most title fight wins (11) in Bellator history.

Ricky Bandejas to Fight Ray Borg in Eagle FC 46 Next Month

Ricky Bandejas is readying for a fight…

The 30-year-old Latino mixed martial artist will be among the fighters set to take part in Eagle FC‘s return to the United States.

Ricky Bandejas Bandejas will fight against former UFC title challenger Ray Borg in a bantamweight bout and Rizvan Kuniev will defend his heavyweight title against UFC veteran Anthony Hamilton at Eagle FC 46 on March 11 in Miami, according to promoter Khabib Nurmagomedov.

This will be the first time Kuniev will defend the Eagle title on United States soil.

Bandejas (15-6) has won two of his last three fights with Combate Global. The New Jersey native beat Conor McGregor protégé James Gallagher under the Bellator banner in 2018.

Borg (15-5), known as The Tazmexican Devil, has won two straight after departing the UFC. Most recently, the Mexico native defeated Cody Gibson via unanimous decision last month at Eagle FC 44.

Borg, still just 28 years old, challenged Demetrious Johnson for the UFC flyweight title at UFC 216 in October 2017. He struggled with personal issues, including a brain illness affecting his infant son Anthony, and weight-cutting difficulties in the UFC before being released in 2020.

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.