Bellator 249: Cris Cyborg reaffirms champion status with dominant victory over Arlene Blencowe

Bellator 249: Cris Cyborg reaffirms champion status with dominant victory over Arlene Blencowe
Cyborg retained her Bellator women's featherweight title - Lucas Noonan/Bellator MMA

Cyborg retained her Bellator women’s featherweight title – Lucas Noonan/Bellator MMA

Brilliant Brazilian mixed martial artist Cris Cyborg proved once more why she is a one-off, wrecking-ball fighter as she tore through the challenge of opponent Arlene Blencowe to retain her Bellator women’s featherweight title inside two rounds at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut.

With another dominant display, the champion in every major organisation continues the legacy created over the last fifteen years with this victory. Cyborg’s most renowned moments against now WWE star Shayna Baszler on CBS and her battle 14 years ago against now Hollywood action star Gina Carano on Showtime – current Bellator president Scott Coker made that fight – are there in glorious technicolour in a career of pioneering the women’s side of this sport.

Cyborg’s only high profile defeat was a stand-and-bang brawl with current UFC champion Amanda Nunes – a fight which could have gone either way as they let their hands go, and there will likely be a huge rematch of the two hardest hitters ever in women’s MMA down the line.

But for now, Cyborg simply seems to be getting better and at 35, she is showing no signs of slowing. Here, against Blencowe, a former boxing world champion, the opposition was blown away, dominated and submitted by the champion. It is hard to see who will be a genuine pretender to the throne that the Brazilian inhabits.

Cyborg registered the first submission of her career – 21 victories and two defeats in a sport where unblemished records at the elite end are virtually impossible – after dominating the exchanges in the stand-up. She first attacked her challenger with leg kicks. Then, with educated counter-striking, Cyborg pushed Blencowe back towards the cage wall, marshalling her foe away from the centre circle, before overpowering her and bludgeoning her on the ground. Blencowe barely survived the first round, the fight statistics showing the utter dominance of the champion.

The second stanza was simply more of the same. In spite of Blencowe trying as she might to get into the fight to gain a foothold, the pattern was set and Cyborg took control again, before taking the fight to the canvas like a giant anaconda, pressing her Australian rival flat, bloodying her and submitting her foe.

After her latest demolition – Cyborg did much of the same to Canadian Julia Budd over four rounds to claim the crown back in a different world then in Los Angeles in January – it is difficult to see how the best of challengers will overcome her.

I watched Cyborg defeat Budd live at The Forum in January and she is a frightening prospect live given the intensity with which the Brazilian fights. “I want to thank Scott Coker and Bellator for this opportunity at this point in my career,” said Cyborg. “The roster at 145 pounds is growing and is the best in the world with so many signings, and I will fight anyone who Bellator puts in front of me.”

This softly spoken, kind woman outside the cage who does charity work for impoverished African children and who lives the life in the gym, really is a one-off, a pioneer of the sport and of women’s sport. We should treasure her abilities while she is still with us, fighting and delighting.

Bellator 249: Cyborg vs. Blencowe
Main Card results from Mohegan Sun Resort, Conn. 

Cris “Cyborg” (23-2) defeated Arlene Blencowe (13-8) via submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:46 of round two
Leandro Higo (20-5) defeated Ricky Bandejas (13-5) via submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:32 of round two
Steve Mowry (8-0) defeated Shawn Teed (6-3-1) via TKO at 4:22 of round one
Saad Awad (23-13, 1 NC) and Mandel Nallo (7-1, 1 NC) ended in a no contest (unintentional low blow)

Preliminary Card:
Andrew Kapel (16-7) defeated Joseph Creer (7-2-1) via TKO (doctor’s stoppage – cut) at 5:00 of round two
Kemran Lachinov (10-2) defeated Kyle Crutchmer (6-1) via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Christian Edwards (4-0) defeated Hamza Salim (5-4) via submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:38 of round two
Da’mon Blackshear (8-3) defeated Mike Kimbel (3-3) via submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:14 of round two
Aviv Gozali (5-0) defeated Logan Neal (1-1) via submission (kimura) at 3:22 of round one
Albert Gonzales (2-2) defeated Kastriot Xhema (3-5, 1 NC) via TKO (fighter retirement) at 5:00 of round two.

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