Arlene Blencowe’s striking gave her the edge against a gritty Leslie Smith at Bellator 233 on Friday night in Thackerville.
Leslie Smith was making her second trip to the Bellator MMA cage Friday night in Thackerville, OK. Having come out victorious in her first fight earlier this year, a win over former title challenger Arlene Blencowe could line her up against the winner of Julia Budd and Cris Cyborg in January.
Blencowe, meanwhile, was looking to improve on the two-fight win streak she had compiled since losing to Budd for the second time at Bellator 189. While it wasn’t official, the fight was essentially a number one contender’s bout.
Blencowe opened up with some kicks, getting her jab working as well. Smith answered with some kicks of her own, and landed a punch up the middle, only for Blencowe to fire back with a flurry moments later. Smith closed the distance with some looping punches, which allowed her to clinch with Blencowe and work towards a takedown. Smith, however, would be stymied on the takedown front, though she was able to mix in a number of knees and some elbows.
Moving away from the fence, Blencowe showed she had the advantage at distance. But again Smith closed the gap, driving her into the cage. As time wore down in the first the pair began trading, with a slick spinning elbow from Blencowe being the highlight.
Smith’s dirty boxing and clinch work was the story of the first. The second saw plenty more back-and-forth. Smith landed kicks to the leg, body, and head, though the latter were at least partially blocked. Blencowe would get Smith’s attention with a right hand, but it was the ‘Peacemaker’ who continued to walk her opponent down for the bulk of the round. In the final thirty seconds, Smith closed the distance, looking for the clinch once more, but this time, Blencowe wisely escaped.
The third round opened with both women still very much in the fight. Smith, again, walked her opponent down, but Blencowe’s jab was working again, hitting home with regularity. Smith soon bullied her way into a clinch, however, looking to land a trip. Blencowe stayed standing, however, but Smith refused to let go. The takedown wasn’t there, however. Instead, the reminder of the fight would play out on the feet, Blencowe working the body, working her jab, and staying cool under fire.
Official Result: Arlene Blencowe def. Leslie Smith by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)