Outside of a “blip” against Amanda Nunes back in the UFC, Cris Cyborg has been all but unstoppable throughout her MMA career.
At Bellator 279, Arlene Blencowe would get a second crack at the women’s featherweight champ. Hoping, no doubt, for a vastly different outcome this time around, having been submitted in their first meeting.
The sequel would, in fact, be a vastly different fight. And an extremely entertaining one.
Early on, an exchange of kicks underscored that anything Cyborg threw, she threw with power. Blencowe worked her jab; Cyborg loaded up on a right hand. Blencowe proved willing to stand and trade, though whether that was wise remained to be seen. The champ landed a jab to the midsection, moments later, the pair would open up, each woman landing some hard shots.
Another exchange led to a clinch, which Cyborg putting Blencowe against the fence. After some knees, Blencowe reversed; Cyborg was firing off the break. Seconds later, she fired a kick to the body, and Blencowe came over the top and tagged Cyborg. They clinched again. The champ then tagged Blencowe, and the challenger hit the floor! Cyborg took the back, then fired a knee, but Blencowe was clearly grounded. That led to the ref separating the pair. Blencowe was thankfully able to continue, and the ref took a point from the champ. On the restart, Cyborg immediately took the fight down, but Blencowe fought her off. Another exchange sent Blencowe reeling, but they’d head to the second.
More big swings from champ and challenger opened the second. If nothing else, “Angerfist” Blencowe proved she was willing to stand toe-to-toe with the most feared striker in women’s fighting history. Cyborg landed her jab. Blencowe showed excellent head movement. Cyborg fired a high kick that was blocked, Blencowe fired a punch that missed, but a follow-up would land. The pair seemed to have settled in a little; Cyborg mixed in a leg kick or high kick here and there, but mostly, it was straight boxing — with Cyborg finally changing things up by driving Blencowe into the fence and clinching up with two minutes remaining.
In the clinch, Cyborg man-handled Blencowe, firing knees. Blencowe finally circled out, then hit Cyborg with an overhand. They’d begin to trade with reckless abandon, every shot thrown with fight-ending intention. Both fighters were bloodied, and it was only the end of the second.
Cyborg fired a high kick to open the third, which was blocked; a leg kick by the champ followed. Then another high kick. Blencowe fired a few low kicks. A left hook would drop Cyborg about two minutes in, though she appeared off-balance more than hurt. Cyborg would continue to attack, and Blencowe soon had a cut leaking by her left eye. They’d finish the round continuing to throw power — then it was time for the championship rounds.
Blencowe found success with her right hand early in round four, forcing Cyborg to back up — a sight rarely seen in MMA history. Cyborg continued to chop at Blencowe’s leg with low kicks. Cyborg was again forced back by a punch; she raised her hands in the air signaling a slip. When they re-engaged, Cyborg landed a suplex takedown, and moved into side control. She turned Blencowe away from the fence; the pair wound up in north-south, then it was back to side control for Cyborg. The champ began firing elbows to the side, then pinned an arm, looking to get a crucifix. More elbows to the body, but Cyborg was in half-guard now. Blencowe turned, looking to scramble out; she did with just under a minute left in the round. Blencowe pressured in the final seconds, biting down and throwing, walking the champ down.
Cyborg attacked Blencowe’s lead leg early in round five. Win or lose — and she was losing to that point — the Australian had given Cyborg the toughest fight of her Bellator career. One of the toughest of her career period. Blencowe continued to pressure, moving in on the champ only to eat a left hand. Cyborg’s jab was landing. Blencowe loaded up on a right hand but missed. Cyborg fired a spinning back kick. She added a front kick, with a jab trailing that. A left hook cracked Blencowe at the end of a combination. She landed a combo of her own. Blencowe, however, needed a finish; even with the early point deduction, the scorecards were not going to be in her favor. Blencowe pointed to the ground and signaled that she wanted to throw down! She waved the champ in, much to the crowd’s delight— Cyborg did engage, but stayed out of harm’s way.
Once again, Cyborg had her hand raised at the end of the night — but Blencowe pushed her, resulting in a wildly entertaining performance.
Official Result: Cris Cyborg (c) def. Arlene Blencowe by unanimous decision (49-45, 49-45, 49-45)