Former women’s flyweight title challenger Alejandra Lara and TUF/Invicta alum DeAnna Bennett were in very different places entering Bellator 266.
The San Jose-based card found Lara looking to bounce back from a misstep against Kana Watanabe earlier this year. Bennett was in far more dire straights, with a three-fight skid (not counting exhibition bouts in an Invicta grand prix) and back-to-back misses at the scale weighing her down both figuratively and literally. The weight miss this time out was 3.2lbs, well over the flyweight limit.
At the same time, Bennett was the homecoming hero, returning to California with her father’s memory in mind— prior to passing away from cancer in 2016, he’d served as a police officer in San Jose, even working events at the SAP Center, where his daughter was fighting Saturday night.
Saturday, Bennett was able to honor her late father with a dominant performance against Lara.
The affair opened with Bennett heavy on the wrestling through the opening round. At times, she fought for submissions, and Lara spent a good chunk of time flattened out, fighting hands. As things progressed, she also had to fend off plenty of ground n’ pound. The ref would take a look look towards the end of the round, but ultimately Lara survived.
The second frame was closer, with Lara keeping the fight standing through most of it. She found some success with her left hand, and fired a number of kicks. But Bennett had the edge in strength and seemed to just bully her opponent in the clinch.
The third round played out in similar fashion. Lara found some success, but once again, it was Bennett mostly in the driver’s seat. When they went to the ground late in the frame, this time it was Bennett on her back. But she would connect with an upkick, and pretty much ride out the clock en route to a one-sided decision win.
She’ll need to sort out her weight management moving forward — but DeAnna Bennett could be trouble for a number of fighters in Bellator’s women’s flyweight division.
Official Result: DeAnna Bennett def. Alejandra Lara by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26)