Leslie Smith vs. Arlene Blencowe Added to Bellator 233

Leslie Smith
Leslie Smith Credit: Bellator MMA

Leslie Smith returns against ex-title challenger Arlene Blencowe, while Tyrell Fortune may appear at Bellator 233.

A key women’s featherweight fight has been added to November’s Bellator 233. Going down on the main card, women’s featherweights Leslie Smith and Arlene Blencowe will collide. As well, heavyweight Tyrell Fortune is a possibility to appear. Cageside Press confirmed two bouts with a Bellator official following earlier reports by MMA Fighting (Smith vs. Blencowe) and MMA Junkie (Fortune). However, the promotion has since backtracked on Fortune’s bout with Tim Johnson appearing on the card.

Smith (11–7–1) made her Bellator MMA debut in July, defeating Sinead Kavanagh by majority decision at Bellator 224. The fight was the return to action for ‘The Peacemaker,’ who had not competed since June 2017, prior to the end of her UFC run. Smith was infamously shown the door by the UFC after opponent Aspen Ladd missed weight for their fight at UFC Atlantic City in April 2018. After trying to re-negotiate her contract, the UFC instead paid her out, ending her time there in the process.

The move came as Smith was ramping up her action as the head of Project Spearhead, a campaign to determine whether UFC fighters were employees, or independent contractors.

Blencowe (12–7) is a former title challenger in Bellator MMA, who has twice been defeated by champ Julia Budd. Their first meeting, in 2016, was a non-title fight that ended in a majority decision loss for Blencowe. Just over a year later, she’d lose a split decision to Budd, with the title on the line.

Since then, Blencowe has won two straight fights, defeating Amber Leibrock and Amanda Bell. The winner of Smith vs. Blencowe could very well be the next title challenger, booked against the victor of January’s Julia Budd vs. Cris Cyborg fight.

Heavyweight prospect Tyrell Fortune (7-0), meanwhile, was expected to face Tim Johnson at Bellator 233. Fortune has won all seven of his fights under the Bellator MMA banner, and is considered a blue chip prospect, with a solid wrestling base. The Division II NCAA champion last fought at Bellator 225, where he submitted Rudy Schaffroth — a training partner of his own twin brother Tyree.

A Bellator official had confirmed the bout with Tim Johnson (12–6), who left the UFC off a win over Marcello Golm in 2018, then dropped fights to both Cheick Kongo and Vitaly Minakov. However, the same official subsequently advised that the fight would not be taking place at the event. Said official later indicated that they expect Fortune to remain on the card.

Bellator 233 takes place November 8, 2019 at the WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Oklahoma. John Salter faces Costello Van Steenis in the main event.

Update, 7:15PM ET: A Bellator official issued a correction to Cageside Press stating that “the Fortune/Johnson fight isn’t taking place on that card.”

Update, 6:00AM ET: Fortune is expected to remain on the card, against an opponent TBA.