Cris Cyborg protects Bellator championship with submission triumph over Arlene Blencowe

Cris Cyborg put on another prevailing show in a career full of them, and included another curve by scoring her first submission triumph in 26 pro bouts, choking out Arlene Blencowe to effectively defend her Bellator women’s featherweight championship in the main event of Bellator 249 on Thursday at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Cyborg battered her challenger in a one-sided round and a half, bloodying Blencowe in the stand-up battling before taking her to the canvas and securing a back stripped stifle to get the tapout at 2:36 of Round 2.

“This is a dream come true,” said Cyborg (23-2, 1 NC). “I’m really happy, and excited for the next one.”

Cyborg, who had scored knockouts in 18 of her past 22 triumphs, was making her first defense of the 145-pound championship she won from Julia Budd in January in her Bellator debut. That finished a sweep of all major featherweight titles in women’s MMA, as Cyborg previously had reigned in the UFC, Invicta FC and the now-defunct Strikeforce.

A 35-year-old local of Brazil who lives and trains in Southern California, Cyborg has endured only one defeat in 15 years, a TKO loss in 2018 to two-division UFC champion Amanda Nunes, who is No. 1 in the ESPN ladies’ pound-for-pound rankings. Cyborg is positioned third.

Blencowe (13-8), a 37-year-old from Australia, is a previous two-time world champion in pro boxing. Yet, her boxing never was a factor this battle. Cyborg hurt her in the first round with leg kicks and quick combinations of punches, and when the champ got the battle to the canvas only two minutes in, she held onto a prevailing position and almost finished it at that point.

Blencowe survived to the bell, however she was harmed goods coming out for the second round. Cyborg amassed her, returned her to the mat and completed her.

It was Blencowe’s second unsuccessful offer for the Bellator women’s featherweight title. She lost a split decision to Budd in 2017.

Prior at night, the fight card lost its co-main event when Patricky Freire was pulled from his 159-pound catchweight session with Jaleel Willis since he became sick. Mike Mazzulli, director of athletic guideline for the Mohegan Tribe, said Freire was eliminated from the card “because of an illness unrelated to COVID or weight cut.”

Afterward, the contender’s sibling, Bellator men’s featherweight champ Patricio Freire, composed on Instagram that he and Patricky’s mentors had canceled the battle, saying, “I caught him in his room a bit dizzy right when we were going to leave to the arena.”

He said his sibling was seen by two commission doctors, had been medicated and was feeling admirably “but devastated by the cancellation.”