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.”

Charles Oliveira to Face Off Against Dustin Poirier for Lightweight Championship at UFC 269

Charles Oliveira has a new opponent…

The 31-year-old Brazilian professional mixed martial artist (31-8) will face off against Dustin Poirier for the lightweight championship at UFC 269 on Dec. 11.

Charles Oliveira

The matchup had been in talks for weeks, and Poirier told ESPN late last month there was “a good chance” it would happen. The 32-year-old lightweight mixed martial artist wrote on social media that the bout is now official.

“Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” Poirier wrote on Twitter.

Representatives for Poirier confirmed to ESPN he has officially agreed to the December title fight.

A win against Oliveira would cap off an amazing year for Poirier, who has been fighting professionally since 2009. The Louisiana native kicked off 2021 by knocking out Conor McGregor in January at UFC 257. He followed that up with another TKO win against McGregor at UFC 264 in July, a fight that ended when McGregor suffered a serious leg injury at the end of the opening round.

UFC 269 will mark Poirier’s second attempt at an undisputed UFC championship. He challenged former lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in September 2019, and lost via submission. Poirier is a former interim UFC champion, but has never held the undisputed title.

Oliveira, 31, captured the vacant UFC title by knocking out Michael Chandler in May. Fighting out of Brazil, Oliveira is riding a nine-fight win streak that includes eight finishes.

Ryan Garcia Agrees to Terms with Javier Fortuna on a Fight This Summer

Ryan Garcia is sealing the deal…

The 22-year-old Mexican American budding lightweight contender has agreed to terms with former champion Javier Fortuna on a fight this summer, according to ESPN.

Ryan Garcia

In March, the WBC ordered Garcia to fight Fortuna in a defense of the WBC’s interim lightweight title. The winner will likely be in contention to face Devin Haney, who holds the sanctioning body’s top belt in the 135-pound division.

The location and date is yet to be determined, but sources confirmed to ESPN it likely won’t occur on July 10, which is the same date as UFC 264 featuring the trilogy fight between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier.

Garcia (21-0, 18 KOs) is coming off a January win over Luke Campbell, which was the toughest bout of the 22-year-old’s young career. Fortuna (36-2-1, 25 KOs), who was once the junior lightweight champion, has won three straight fights since a no-contest against Adrian Granados in 2018.

Friday’s development comes exactly two weeks before a scheduled purse bid if Garcia and Fortuna’s promoters couldn’t come to an agreement.

Garcia, who has one of the biggest social media followings in boxing, has long viewed as one of Golden Boy Promotions‘ top prospects. Garcia defeated Campbell with a 7th-round technical knockout via a big body shot, Garcia’s fifth consecutive stoppage victory.

News of the Garcia-Fortuna bout was first reported by The Athletic.

Ryan Garcia Plans Early Retirement from Boxing & Teases Possible MMA Career

Ryan Garcia is planning for an early retirement…

The 22-year-old Mexican American boxer, who claimed the WBC interim lightweight title earlier this month, believes he’ll be done with boxing early.

Ryan “Kingry” Garcia 

Garcia plans to retire at the age of 26.

But the red-hot prospect is not saying he’ll give up all combat sport at that time.

Garcia announced on The Rich Eisen Show on Thursday that he’ll consider moving over to MMA following his boxing career. He said he wants to prove he’s the best fighter in the world — and not just in the ring.

“If they say, ‘OK you’ve beaten everybody in the ring’ [and] somebody goes ‘this ain’t real fighting — real fighting is legs, choking, submissions, all that,'” Garcia said. “Guess what I’ll do? I’ll go prove to them that I’m the best fighter all around in the world. I’m talking about hands, I’m talking about wrestling. I will go to MMA to prove a point that God is greatest. And I’ll go beat whoever it is in MMA they say I won’t beat. If it has to be Conor McGregor, I will. And I’m not saying this to get money — I don’t care about money. I’m saying this just because it’s how I feel.”

Garcia said his plan is to still leave boxing when he’s 26 years old. But he wouldn’t rule out a comeback there, either.

Amanda Ribas in Talks to Fight Michelle Waterson in UFC 257 Bout

Amanda Ribas is thisclose to returning to the Octagon…

The UFC is close to finalizing a strawweight bout between the 27-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist and Michelle Waterson for UFC 257, according to multiple sources.

Amanda Ribas

The UFC 257 pay-per-view event is the first on the company’s 2021 schedule. The promotion hasn’t announced a location for the event or a main event, although UFC president Dana White has said the event is earmarked for Conor McGregor‘s return to the Octagon against Dustin Poirier.

Ribas (10-1) is one of the most promising prospects in the division. She is undefeated since signing with the UFC last year, and has taken out the likes of Emily WhitmireMackenzie DernRanda Markos and Paige VanZant. She finished VanZant with a first-round armbar at UFC 251 in July.

Waterson (18-8) is one of the most established names of the strawweight division, with a 6-4 record in the UFC dating back to 2015. The former Invicta FC champion was knocking on the door of title contention in 2019 before she suffered back-to-back decision losses to former champions Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Carla Esparza. Fighting out of Jackson Wink MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Waterson has since rebounded from the two-fight skid with a win over Angela Hill.

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.

UFC Fighter Nate Diaz Beats Anthony Pettis in First Fight After Three-Year Hiatus

Nate Diaz is back in a big way…

In his highly anticipated return to the Octagon after a three year absence, the 34-year-old Latino mixed martial artist was excellent in a unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) win over Anthony Pettis in the co-main event of UFC 241on Saturday at the Honda Center.

Nate Diaz

Diaz had not fought since a loss to Conor McGregor at UFC 202on August 20, 2016. 

He imposed his will on Pettis early and often. Diaz was able to press Pettis against the cage in every round and land punch combinations, elbows and knees. He closed the first and third rounds in good positions on the ground, an area he also controlled when the fight went there.

Afterward, Diaz said he is interested in fighting Jorge Masvidal next, adding that he was impressed by Masvidal’s five-second knockout of Ben Askren last month.

“All respect to the man, but there ain’t no gangsters in this game anymore. There ain’t nobody who does it right but me and him,” said Diaz, who hails from Stockton, California, and enjoyed a huge partisan crowd on Saturday. “So I know my man’s a gangster, but he ain’t no West Coast gangster.”

At his postfight news conference, UFC president Dana Whitesaid he wouldn’t be opposed to making Diaz-Masvidal fight if that’s what both fighters wanted next.

Diaz (20-11) went 1-1 against McGregor in 2016. They were two of the biggest pay-per-view events in Ultimate Fighting Championshiphistory. Diaz has a huge cult following among fans for his irreverence, exciting fighting style and propensity to flip a double bird. He had not fought since that star-making year because he wasn’t able to come to terms with the UFC.

Alvarez to Fight Conor McGregor to Retain His UFC Lightweight Title

Eddie Alvarez is preparing for a highly anticipated Big Apple bout…

The 32-year-old half-Puerto Rican mixed martial artist and current UFC Lightweight Champion will face off against Conor McGregor in the lightweight championship headline UFC 205 bout on November 12 at Madison Square Garden.

Eddie Alvarez

UFC officials confirmed the 155-pound title fight to ESPN on Monday. The UFC 205 pay-per-view is historic because it marks the promotion’s first trip to New York since a 1997 ban on professional mixed martial arts was lifted earlier this year.

McGregor (20-3), the current featherweight champion, will attempt to join BJ Penn and Randy Couture as the only fighters in UFC history to win titles in multiple weight classes. Per UFC president Dana White, McGregor will retain his featherweight championship through UFC 205, meaning he has the chance to become the first ever to hold those belts simultaneously.

“This is the fight the fans wanted, and I’m excited that our very first event at Madison Square Garden will be headlined by Eddie Alvarez defending the lightweight title against Conor McGregor,” White told ESPN. “This card has three world title fights and is the best card in UFC history.”

Alvarez (28-4) won the title in a first-round knockout over Rafael dos Anjos in July. The Philadelphia native also has held a 155-pound title in Bellator MMA. Alvarez publicly campaigned for a fight against McGregor, even though White briefly targeted a bout between Alvarez and Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Arrieta to Bare All in ESPN the Magazine’s annual The Body Issue

He may play for the Chicago Cubs, but that doesn’t mean Jake Arrieta isn’t afraid to show he’s also a Chicago Bare

ESPN has released the starting lineup for ESPN the Magazines annual The Body Issue, in which the world’s top athletes take off all their clothes and pose for photographs that help celebrate the athletic form.

Jake Arrieta

And the 30-year-old part-Puerto Rican baseball star, the MLB wins leader in 2015, has made the cut, along with UFC fighter Conor McGregor, U.S. women’s national soccer team member Christen Press, Super Bowl MVP Von Miller and Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade.

Arrieta, who is following up his 2015 Cy Young Award-winning season with an impressive 2016 campaign, is a well-known fitness fanatic. He’s lauded the use of Pilates as part of his remarkable comeback story. He currently has an 11-1 record with a sparkling 1.74 ERA for the Cubs in 14 starts this season.

The Body issue will also feature the first transgender athlete to appear in its pages, American duathlete Chris Mosier. Retired diver Greg Louganis — at age 56 — is the issue’s oldest.

“HIV taught me that I’m a lot stronger than I ever believed I was,” Louganis said. “I didn’t think I would see 30, and here I am at 56.”

ESPN hasn’t released the full listyet, but has said the issue will include ten men and nine women.

Arrieta is the latest Latino athlete to be featured in ESPN the Magazine’s The Body Issue, including Major League Soccer star Omar Gonzalez, Miami Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton and futbolista Carlos Bocanegra.