Bellator 271: “Cyborg vs. Kavanagh” will take place later tonight (Fri., Nov. 12, 2021) at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Headlining the Showtime-televised event will be a women’s Featherweight title fight as Cris Cyborg defends her belt against Sinead Kavanagh.
In the co-main event of the evening, Tyrell Fortune takes on Linton Vassell in a pivotal Heavyweight affair.
Cris Cyborg vs. Sinead Kavanagh
Amanda Nunes made Cris Cyborg look human at UFC 232 three years ago by handing her just the second loss of her combat career and first in more than 15 years. Since then, however, the hard-hitting Featherweight has reminded everyone that one loss won’t define her and she is still as dangerous than ever. She’s gone 4-0 since the crushing knockout loss, which includes three straight wins under the Bellator banner, capturing the 145-pound title in her promotional debut and then securing two title defenses. Her third attempt will come against Sinead Kavanagh, winner of two in a row. During her stint with Bellator, Kavanagh has had a rather tumultuous run going an even 4-4, which is a rather misleading record because she hasn’t scored consecutive victories with the promotion, which makes one wonder how she is in the position she is in now. Nevertheless, she has the chance to upset the MMA world later tonight, though I just don’t see it happening. Cyborg is still a level above pretty much everyone not named Amanda Nunes, so I don’t see Kavanagh offering much resistance in Cris’s path to securing a third title defense. She does have a puncher’s chance, but outside of that I expect a dominant first round win from the champion.
Prediction: Cyborg via first round knockout
Tyrell Fortune vs. Linton Vassell
Fedor Emelianenko stunned the combat world with an impressive first-round knockout win over former No. 1-ranked Tim Johnson a few weeks ago, putting him in position to possibly fight for the title in his final fight for the promotion, assuming Ryan Bader defeats Valentin Moldavsky. That means the Fortune and Vassell have a chance to stake their claim for a shot at the strap. Fortune is ranked No. 5 at the moment and is on a three-fight win streak and was last seen stopping Matt Mitrione via strikes in round one this past summer. Vassell, meanwhile, is right behind him at No. 6 and has won two straight, both via technical knockout over Sergei Kharitonov and Ronny Markes. A win over Fortune definitely boosts his chances to get a shot at the strap, but a victory for Fortune all but assures it. It’s a pretty even match up, though I will give Fortune the edge in knockout power. That’s not to say Vassell is a slouch on the feet, but Fortune has the strength in his strikes to end the fight early. I don’t see it ending right away, but Fortune will eventually find the space he needs to land the crushing shot.
Prediction: Fortune via third round technical knockout
Aaron Pico vs. Justin Gonzalez
After a tough stretch that saw him drop back-to-back fights in 2019, Pico has really turned it around and is once again in the thick of the championship race. Winner of four straight, Pico was last seen putting on a wrestling clinic against Aiden Lee this past summer before choking him out. Currently ranked No. 6, Pico has a strong shot at making his case for a title eliminator fight in his next outing. Before he can look ahead to that, he has a tough task ahead of him in Gonzalez, the undefeated prospect who is looking for a big sophomore effort under the Bellator umbrella. In his promotional debut, Gonzalez narrowly defeated Tywan Claxton via split decision. Despite only being a pro for five years, Gonzalez has garnered plenty of experience thanks to stints in various promotions, including earning a victory on Dana White’s “Contender Series.” A win over Pico would undoubtedly be the biggest of his career and earn him a one-way ticket to the Top 5. I just don’t think he has enough to stun Pico at this stage of his career because he is firing on all cylinders and has constantly faced top competition under the Bellator umbrella. It won’t be a walk in the park, but expect Pico to earn his fifth straight.
Final Prediction: Pico via unanimous decision
Arlene Blencowe vs. Pam Sorenson
Unlike UFC, Bellator has a healthy women’s 145-pound division. The title will be up for grabs in the main event of the evening, but the next contender for the belt could be decided once Blencowe and Sorenson handle their business. Blencowe is the No. 1 ranked fighter in the division and has a win over Sinead Kavanagh, who will be fighting for the belt in the headlining act. On the flip side, she came up short in her bid to dethrone Cyborg a year ago, so she hopes to get another crack at the knockout artist if the stars align. She has a tough task against Sorenson, who made a successful debut against Roberta Samad a few months ago. Despite being a pro for six years now, she only has seven fights on her resume, which means she hasn’t been busy at all. She did earn a shot at the Invicta FC title but ultimately fell short against Felicia Spencer. Ranked No. 7 at the moment, a win over the No. 1 ranked fighter in the division could shoot Sorenson into the Top 3. Believe it or not, I don’t see Blencowe holding that many advantages over Sorenson, but she will do enough to squeak out a win here.
Final Prediction: Blencowe via split decision
Steve Mowry vs. Rakim Cleveland
Much was made about Bellator’s decision to put Valerie Loureda on the undercard of this event, especially when the promotion has five fights on the main card instead of its usual four. Eyebrows were raised a bit further when Rakim Cleveland — a fighter making his promotional debut — was given a slot on the main card instead. Nevertheless, he will look to make the most of it when he faces Mowry in the opening card of the Showtime-televised event. Cleveland is riding a three-fight win streak — which is preceded by a four-fight losing streak — all stoppages. He has a big opportunity in his first fight with Bellator against the No. 7 ranked Heavyweight. Mowry is undefeated so far in his combat career, including winning his first five challenges with Bellator. What makes his record even more impressive is the fact that he’s won every one of his wins via stoppage, six via first round. He will have a hard time getting a quick win over “The Boogeyman,” but he will get the “W” when it’s all said and done.
Final prediction: Mowry via third round submission
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