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.

Douglas Lima Moving Up Two Weight Classes to Fight Gegard Mousasi for Bellator’s Vacant Middleweight Title

Douglas Lima is movin’ on up…

The Brazilian mixed martial artist and Bellator welterweight champion will move up to middleweight to fight Gegard Mousasi for the vacant middleweight title as the main event for a card on October 29 at Mohegan Sun.

Douglas Lima

Lima (32-7) has won three straight and is a three-time Bellator welterweight champion. He’s tied for the most knockouts in Bellator history (9).

Mousasi (46-7-2) has won nine of his past 10, including five straight in the UFC before he left as a free agent in 2017. The 35-year-old Netherlands resident, a former Strikeforce and Dream champion, has been a perennial contender in multiple divisions for more than a decade.

Cris Cyborg to Defend Her Bellator Title Against Arlene Blencowe Next Month

Cris Cyborg is getting into defensive mode…

The 35-year-old Brazilian-American mixed martial artist, whose real name is Cristiane Justino, is ready for her first Bellator title defense as part of the promotion’s debut on a new network.

Cris Cyborg

Cyborg will put her Bellator women’s featherweight title on the line against Arlene Blencowe on October 15 at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut, promotion officials have announced.

The card will air in a Thursday night time slot on CBS Sports Network. Bellator had been on Paramount Network (formerly Spike TV) since 2013.

Cyborg (22-2, 1 NC), ESPN’s No. 3-ranked pound-for-pound female fighter in the world, won the Bellator title in her last outing, stopping Julia Budd by fourth-round TKO in January.

Cyborg has won two straight after losing the UFC women’s featherweight title to Amanda Nunes at UFC 232 in December 2018.

Cyborg departed the UFC after her contract expired last year. She’s one of the most fearsome women’s MMA fighters of all time with 18 KO/TKO finishes in 22 pro wins.

Blencowe (13-7) has won three straight and is coming off a unanimous decision win over UFC veteran Leslie Smith last November. The Australia native has just two MMA losses in the past five years, both to Budd. Blencowe, a 37-year-old boxing veteran, has seven KO/TKOs in 13 pro wins.

Sergio Pettis Defeats Ricky Bandejas in Bellator MMA’s Return After Five Months

Sergio Pettis is proving to be a contender…

The 26-year-old Puerto Rican and Mexican American mixed martial artist, the  younger brother of former UFC champion Anthony Pettis, defeated Ricky Bandejas via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) this weekend in the bantamweight main event of Bellator 242.

Sergio Pettis

Bellator, the second-most prominent MMA promotion in the U.S. after the UFC, hadn’t held an event since February 22 due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The card took place at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, overseen by the Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation

COVID-19 protocols were implemented, including multiple coronavirus tests and the keeping of fighters, corners and staff within a kind of bubble at the Mohegan Sun resort and casino.

The original Bellator 242 main event was supposed to be a bout for the bantamweight title between Juan Archuleta and Patrick Mix, but Archuleta withdrew. The expectation is that bout will be rebooked for the belt.

During his fight, Pettis put himself in the No. 1 contender conversation. He had an economical performance against Bandejas, outstriking the taller man and piling on the calf kicks through the first two rounds. At one point, Bandejas seemed to lose his footing due to the damage caused by those repeated kicks to the lower part of his left leg.

In the third round, both men opened up. Pettis wasn’t content to cruise to a decision and put forth several flashy techniques, clearly looking for a knockout. Pettis threw spinning kicks, and Bandejas came back with some of his own, including a wheel kick to the head that was just barely blocked by Pettis. Pettis threw another spinning kick with seconds remaining that narrowly missed as well.

Pettis (20-5) has won three straight, including his first two in Bellator. The Milwaukee native left the UFC as a free agent last year with a 9-5 record in the organization, going back and forth between flyweight and bantamweight. Pettis owns a victory over Joseph Benavidez, who just fought for the UFC flyweight title last weekend in Abu Dhabi.

Bandejas (13-4) had a two-fight winning streak snapped. The New Jersey native propelled himself up the Bellator bantamweight ladder in 2018 when he stunningly knocked out Conor McGregor protégé James Gallagher. Bandejas, 28, trains out of the vaunted American Top Team in Florida.

Cris Cyborg Makes History with Bellator Win Over Julia Budd

Cris Cyborg has earned her place in the mixed martial arts history books…

The 34-year-old Brazilian-American mixed martial artist, whose real name is Cristiane Justino, made her Bellator debut at The Forum in Inglewood, California, in grand fashion.

Cris Cyborg

Cris Cyborg (22-2 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) scored a fourth-round TKO of Julia Budd to claim the women’s featherweight belt, to complete a grand slam and enhance her legacy in the sport.

The victory saw her win a championship with her fourth MMAorganization, having also won titles with the UFCInvicta FC, and Strikeforce.

In the early rounds of  Saturday’s fight, Cris Cyborg showed little respect to her opponent, throwing relentless strikes to Budd’s face and body.

When victory came in the fourth, Cris Cyborg dropped to the canvas, appearing to celebrate the win in disbelief having ended Budd’s unbeaten run of 2,998 days.