Bellator 249: Cyborg vs. Blencowe Preview

Bellator returns to the Mohegan Sun Arena on Thursday night/Friday morning depending where you are in the world. A title fight in the women’s 145 pounds division, that has somewhat come upon us under the radar, tops the card. Cris Cyborg (22-2) defends her featherweight title for the first time as the Brazilian champion steps in to take on Arlene Blencowe (13-7) who fights out New South Wales, Australia.

Cyborg made her debut for the promotion at Bellator 238, fighting Julia Budd and beating the former champion by knockout in the fourth round. Her opponent Blencowe has picked up impressive victories over the likes of Sinead Kavanagh and Adrienna Jenkins in the past. The challenger put on her most impressive performance in the Bellator cage to date in her last fight, comfortably beating Leslie Smith to a decision.

The professional record that Blencowe has might suggest this may be a walk in the park for the champion but Cyborg might have have her hands full with the talented Australian striker. Blencowe has only lost to top level opposition such as Marloes Coenen and Julia Budd (twice) in recent years. Cyborg has gone 10-1 in her last eleven fights, her only loss coming by way of knockout to UFC double champion Amanda Nunes.

Waiting in the wings for the winner may be Sinead Kavanagh after her impressive victory over Katharina Lehner at Bellator Euro Series 9. The Dubliner spoke to SevereMMA’s Seán Sheehan about her chances of securing a win over Cyborg if she is to get her hand raised in this title fight on Thursday night.

The co-main event sees one half of the pitbull brothers in action when Patricky Pitbull (23-9) takes on Jaleel Willis (13-2). Patricky was marked down to fight Waterford’s Peter Queally but unfortunately the SBG man suffered an injury and needed to pull from the fight. I’m sure that Queally will have a keen interest in the outcome of this lightweight encounter. A fight with the potential winner could be on the horizon.

Also on the main card is a fascinating bantamweight fight between Ricky Bandejas (13-4) and Leandro Higo (19-5), who fights under the tutelage of the aforementioned Pitbull brothers. Bandejas is coming off a disappointing loss to promotional newcomer Sergio Pettis the last time out at Bellator 242. The ATT trained athlete will be looking to turn his fortunes around after that defeat when he goes to battle with Higo in the 135 pounds division.

Higo will be looking to make it two wins in a row in the bantamweight division. The Brazilian has a record of 2-3 in his last five fights and will need to put together a string of victories if he is to get his shot at Juan Archuleta’s belt.

Recent wins from Brian Moore and James Gallagher had them both calling out Bandejas, while both guys also have had words with Higo in the much publicized SBG/Pitbull brothers back and forth in the past.

Opening up the main card, American based fighter Saad Awad (23-13) looks to bounce back from four defeats in a row when he takes on Canadian Mandel Nallo (7-1). Awad drops down to the lightweight division, he takes on Nallo who has amassed a record of 2-1 so far under the Bellator banner.

Four undefeated fighters look to maintain that status on the preliminary section of the card. Kyle Crutchmer (6-0) challenges Kemran Lachinov (9-2) in the 170 pound division. Steve Mowry (7-0) and Shawn Teed go to battle in the heavyweight division and Aviv Gozali (4-0) and Logan Neal (1-0) opening up the card as they are set to meet in the lightweight division.

See the official fight card from top to bottom below.

Main Card (7:30pm ET)

Women’s Featherweight Cris Cyborg (c) vs. Arlene Blencowe
Lightweight Patricky Freire vs. Jeleel Willis
Bantamweight Ricky Bandejas vs. Leandro Higo
Lightweight Saad Awad vs. Mandel Nallo


Preliminary Card (5:30pm ET)


Welterweight Albert Gonzales vs. Kastriot Xhema
Light Heavyweight Christian Edwards vs. Hamza Salim
Welterweight Kyle Crutchmer vs. Kemran Lachinov
Middleweight Joseph Creer vs. Andrew Kapal
Catchweight (140 lbs) Mike Kimbel vs. Da’mon Blackshear
Heavyweight Steve Mowry vs. Shawn Teed
Lightweight Aviv Gozali vs. Logan Neal

Ian O'Neill is a Kilkenny man living in Canada. You can catch him on Twitter most of the time talking all things MMA. Follow me on Twitter and on Instagram @ioneillmma.