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.

Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez to Make Golden Boy Debut Against Sullivan Barrera

Gilberto ZurdoRamirez is ready to make his Golden (Boy) debut…

The 29-year-old Mexican professional boxer, a former super middleweight world titlist, will face former light heavyweight title contender Sullivan Barrera on July 9 in Los Angeles, according to Golden Boy Promotions.

Gilberto "Zurdo" Ramirez

Ramirez (41-0, 27 Kos), of Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico, will make his Golden Boy debut after signing with the promotion in February.

Ramirez, who became the first fighter from Mexico to win a world title at 168 by defeating Arthur Abraham by unanimous decision in 2016 to win the WBO belt, defended the title five times before jumping up to light heavyweight. Since then, he has TKO victories over Tommy Karpency and Alfonso Lopez.

“I’m excited to be headlining this show in Los Angeles with Golden Boy Promotions,” Ramirez said via news release. “It’s going to be a great night of boxing with fans back in the stands. I’ve always enjoyed fighting here, and I can’t wait to put on a show to continue my hunt for the light heavyweight championship.”

Barrera (22-3, 14 KOs), 39, of Guantanamo, Cuba, lost his only attempt to win a world title against WBA light heavyweight champ Dmitry Bivol in 2018. He has fought twice since then, a decision win against Sean Monaghan in November 2018 and a decision loss to Jesse Hart in June 2019. “I know that my opponent is a former world champion with a lot of experience and that he will come very much prepared,” Barrera said. “However, I feel that I have faced much better opposition. I’ve also spent my entire career in the light heavyweight division, something that will be totally new for him. It will be a difficult fight, but I will walk away with my hands raised in victory.”

Charles Oliveira Defeats Michael Chandler via TKO to Become UFC Champion

Charles Oliveira is finally a UFC champion.

The 31-year-old Brazilian professional mixed martial artist finished Michael Chandler via TKO at 19 seconds of the second round on Saturday night in the main event of UFC 262 at Toyota Center. With the victory, Oliveira captured the vacant UFC lightweight title.

Charles Oliveira

“I told you I was going to knock him out, and I came and knocked him out,” Oliveira said in his postfight interview through an interpreter. “I proved to everybody I’m the lion of lions.”

In the opening seconds of the second round, Oliveira dropped Chandler with a left hook and then poured it on with strikes on the ground. Chandler tried his best to get away, but he could not. Oliveira landed until referee Dan Miragliotta pulled him off, ruling it a TKO.

Oliveira quickly climbed out of the cage to celebrate after the finish and came right up to UFC president Dana White.

At the postfight news conference, White said Oliveira told him, “Thank you for everything you’ve done for me. Tonight was the biggest opportunity for my life.”

“That was an incredible main event,” White said. “Both guys had an unbelievable performance in that fight. Oliveira pulled it out.”

Marina Rodriguez to Fight Michelle Waterson in Saturday’s UFC Fight Night

Marina Rodriguez is heading to the Octagon

The 34-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist will face off against Michelle Waterson in the UFC Fight Night headliner on Saturday in Las Vegas.

Marina Rodriguez

The originally scheduled main event between former bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw and top contender Cory Sandhagen was postponed last week due to a Dillashaw injury.

Rodriguez and Waterson are both top strawweights, but the bout will be contested a division up at flyweight due to the short-notice nature of the situation. The bout will still be five rounds, like typical UFC main events.

ESPN has Rodriguez ranked No. 6 in the world at strawweight; Waterson comes in at No. 9.

Rodriguez (13-1-2) has just one loss in six UFC appearances. She is coming off a second-round TKO win over prospect Amanda Ribas in January.

Rodriguez has lost just once in her career, to former UFC women’s strawweight champion Carla Esparza in a split decision last July.

Waterson (18-8) is one of the most well-known women’s fighters in mixed martial arts. Nicknamed “The Karate Hottie,” the New Mexico resident is coming off a split decision win over Angela Hill last September. Waterson has won four of her past six bouts with the only losses coming against Esparza and Joanna Jedrzejczyk, another former UFC champion.

Jaime Munguia to Fight Maciej Sulecki in June

Jaime Munguia will be heading back to the ring in June…

The 24-year-old Mexican professional boxer will now face Maciej Sulecki in a middleweight battle set for June 19, according to Golden Boy Promotions.

Jaime Munguia

The fight between Munguia and Sulecki was originally scheduled for April 24 at the Don Haskins Center at the University of Texas at El Paso, but Sulecki suffered an injury and was forced to pull out of the event. D’Mitrius Ballard was named as a replacement opponent, but Ballard was also injured before the fight. Now, with Sulecki recovered, the original fight will go on.

According to Golden Boy, strict COVID-19 safety protocols will be in place and capacity will be down to 40%. The fight will air on DAZN.

Munguia (36-0, 29 KOs) won the WBO junior middleweight title against Sadam Ali in 2018 and defended the belt five times before moving up in weight in January 2020. He has TKO victories over Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan and Tureano Johnson at middleweight.

“I feel very excited to be returning on June 19,” Munguia said via a news release. “I know it will be a tremendous fight against Maciej Sulecki. I think he is a great fighter, and I will make sure to deliver a great fight to all the fans.”

Sulecki (29-2, 11 KOs), 31, of Poland, has won three of his past four fights. He lost a unanimous decision to Demetrius Andrade when he challenged for the WBO middleweight world title in June 2019.

“There have been many changes, but I am happy that things will take place as planned,” Sulecki said. “I know that a victory against Jaime Munguia will put me on the path to challenge for a world title. That’s why securing this fight was very important to me. I feel great, and I am totally ready to show the world that I can compete against the best in the division.”

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.

Anderson Silva to Fight Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in 10-Round Boxing Match

Anderson Silva is taking on a tough competitor in his next bout…

The 45-year-old Brazilian former UFC champion will face former middleweight world champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in a 10-round boxing match on June 19 at Jalisco Stadium in Jalisco, Mexico, according to promoters.

Anderson Silva

Promoter Saul Rios says the fight will take place at 180 pounds. This will be Silva’s third professional boxing match. He suffered a first-round TKO loss to Osmar Luiz Teixeira in 1998 and won a second-round TKO over Julio Cesar De Jesus in 2005. Both earlier fights were held in Brazil.

Silva (34-11, 22 KOs and 4 submissions in MMA) is considered one of the best MMA fighters in history. He owns the longest victory streak in UFC history with 16.

However, after he lost four of his last five fights, including decisions to current middleweight champion Israel Adesanya and Daniel Cormier and KOs to Jared Cannonier and Uriah Hall, the UFC released Silva. He hasn’t fought since October.

“When I look back at my journey, I see that nothing has been in vain,” Silva told TMZ. “I am extremely happy for the opportunity to test my boxing skills with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

“I train continuously, always striving for resilience and to overcome obstacles. Fighting is my everlasting breath.”

Chavez Jr. (52-5-1, 34 KOs) defeated Jeyson Minda in November but is 2-3 in his past five fights, which includes a loss to Canelo Alvarez.

Also on the card, Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. will face Hector Camacho Jr., the son of the late Hector “Macho” Camacho, who was the senior Chavez’s archrival.

WBC Announces Juan Francisco Estrada & Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez Trilogy Fight

It’s a trilogy for Juan Francisco Estrada and Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez.

The WBC has announced a four-fighter 115-pound tournament to crown a true junior bantamweight champ, which includes a trilogy fight against the 30-year-old Mexican junior bantamweight champion and the 33-year-old Nicaraguan professional boxer.

Juan Francisco Estrada x Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez

The card will also include a bout between former champions Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Carlos Cuadras. The winners will face each other after.

For this to happen, the WBC elevated Estrada as its “franchise” champion and chose to make Rungvisai vs. Cuadras 2 for the now vacant regular 115-pound title. Estrada is the third WBC “franchise” champion (Canelo Alvarez at middleweight and Teofimo Lopez at lightweight are the others).

The request for a third battle between Estrada and Gonzalez came naturally after both were involved in a great rematch on March 13 that Estrada won in a close and controversial decision to unify the WBC and WBA world titles.

Estrada was supposed to face his mandatory challenger, Sor Rungvisai, who defeated Ekkawit Songnui by third-round TKO, also on March 13. However, the fight that generated the most interest was Estrada-Gonzalez 3 and therefore Matchroom Boxing, who promoted the rematch, began to work with the WBC to finalize the tournament.

Estrada and Gonzalez are 1-1 in their series. Rungvisai and Cuadras will meet a second time after Cuadras took the WBC junior bantamweight title from Sor Rungvisai in a technical decision victory seven years ago in 2014.

Matchroom has not announced yet when the third battle could take place and if the two title fights would be in the same card.

World Boxing Council Orders Ryan Garcia to Face Javier Fortuna for Interim Lightweight Title

Ryan Garcia has lined up his next opponent…

The World Boxing Council has ordered the 22-year-old rising lightweight boxing star to face contender Javier Fortuna for the interim lightweight title and right to be mandatory challenger to champion Devin Haney.

Ryan “Kingry” Garcia 

The negotiation period has begun for a Garcia-Fortuna bout with a purse bid scheduled for April 16 if no deal is in place by then.

Garcia (21-0, 18 KOs) won the WBC interim lightweight title with a seventh-round TKO victory over Luke Campbell. Despite significant interest from Haney, Garcia decided not to enter negotiations with Haney for a title shot, instead pursuing bigger deals with Gervonta “Tank” Davis and Manny Pacquiao. Neither deal materialized, and now Garcia appears set to face Fortuna this summer.

Fortuna (36-2-1, 25 KOs) is a former champion coming off a sixth-round knockout victory over Antonio Lozada Jr. in November. He was the secondary WBC mandatory challenger.

Garcia is one of boxing’s biggest young stars with a significant following, particularly from Gen Z and social media communities. But his mission has been to gain respect for his boxing ability. He made his first big step in that by overcoming a first-round knockdown to beat Campbell earlier this year.

If a bout with Fortuna is finalized, Garcia would have his second consecutive contender to add to his résumé and continue to raise his profile.

Jose Ramirez to Fight Josh Taylor in Junior Welterweight Unification Title Bout

Jose Ramirez is ready to expand his belt collection…

The junior welterweight unification title bout between the 28-year-old Mexican American boxer and Josh Taylor will take place on May 22 at a to be determined Las Vegas venue.

Jose Ramirez

Ramirez, the WBC and WBO champion, and Taylor, the IBF and WBA champion, had initially been planning to fight on May 8, but the fight was moved as to not conflict with the Canelo AlvarezBilly Joe Saunders title fight. Instead, they’ll fight later in the month, headlining a card on ESPN and simulcast on ESPN+.

“This is the best boxing has to offer, two elite fighters in the prime of their careers colliding in a legacy-defining matchup for the undisputed championship of the world,” Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said in a news release. “It’s a true 50-50 fight, one that the fans and both fighters demanded.”

Ramirez (26-0, 17 KO) last fought in August, winning a majority decision over Viktor Postol in his first defense as both the WBC and WBO titleholder. He has held the WBC belt since March 17, 2018, when he beat Amir Imam and the WBO belt since July 27, 2019, when he TKO‘d Maurice Hooker in the sixth round.

Taylor (17-0, 13 KO) won the IBF title in a May 2019 decision over Ivan Baranchyk and the WBA belt in a majority decision win over Regis Prograis in October 2019. Taylor, 30, last fought in September 2020, knocking out Apinun Khongsong in the first round.

Both Taylor and Ramirez fought as lightweights in the 2012 London Games, each losing in the quarterfinals in a division won by Vasiliy Lomachenko. On the same side of the bracket, they would have met up in the semifinals had they kept winning. Now, they’ll fight to unify a professional world title instead.

Terence Crawford was the last fighter the unify the division, a feat he accomplished in 2017. Crawford then vacated the titles with a move up to 147 pounds.