Cris Cyborg remains untouchable inside the Bellator cage, but she had to work for it this time.
On Saturday night at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center in Honolulu, Cyborg retained her featherweight title with a unanimous decision win over Arlene Blencowe in the main event of Bellator 279. Like in their first encounter at Bellator 249, Cyborg battered Blencowe all over the cage, but the featherweight champion was unable to secure a finish this time around, being stymied by the sheer determination and toughness of Blencowe.
Early on it looked like this would be a repeat of their first fight when Cyborg dropped Blencowe in the first round, nearly finishing the fight there before an illegal knee to Blencowe’s head caused a break in the action and led referee Jason Herzog to deduct a point from Cyborg. That brief respite allowed Blencowe to recover enough to make it out of the round.
Things improved for Blencowe from there though as in the second and third rounds, Cyborg appeared content to have almost exclusively a kickboxing match, and while Cyborg certainly landed more and landed the bigger shots, Blencowe found a home for her right hand as well, even catching the champion off balance on a couple of occasions.
In the championship rounds, Blencowe, her face a bloody mask at that point, continued to press the issue with Cyborg, creating exchanges and never backing down. Ultimately, Blencowe was simply overmatched against the featherweight champion, but she gave a tremendous account of herself and became the first person to survive five rounds with Cyborg inside the Bellator cage. In the end, Cyborg won a clear unanimous decision and made her fourth defense of her featherweight title.
After the bout, Cyborg gave Blencowe credit for her toughness and then said she wants to pursue the biggest fights possible, whether that be Cat Zingano, Amanda Nunes, or Kayla Harrison.
Cris Cyborg wins by unanimous decision to retain her featherweight championship!@BellatorMMA #Bellator279 pic.twitter.com/HNbm3xvwBM
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) April 24, 2022