Fight fans were treated to a weekend full of fights with Bellator 278, Bellator 279 and UFC Vegas 52 all going down within the span of two days. If we go back a bit further into the week, the start of the PFL 2022 season gave us a “Fight of the Year” contender after Clay Collard and Jeremy Stephens went to war for 15 minutes.
Perhaps the most exciting event of all them was Bellator 279, which ushered in the start of the promotion’s Bantamweight World Grand Prix, featured the return of former women’s Flyweight champion, Ilima-Lei Macfarlane, and Cris Cyborg’s latest defense of her Featherweight title.
But, the story of the event were the underdogs, who stole the show by pulling off several upsets on the main card. To kick things off, Yancy Medeiros returned after a 10-month layoff to make his Bellator MMA debut, defeating former two-time Featherweight title contender, Emmanuel Sanchez, snapping his four-fight losing streak in the process. As a result, he earned himself a contract with the promotion after initially signing a one-fight deal.
In the opening bout of the Bantamweight Grand Prix, Patchy Mix upset one of the favorites to win it all in former RIZIN 135-pound champion, Kyoji Horiguchi, dominating the five-round bout to advance to the semifinals and get one step closer to the title and a $1 million payday.
Also, Justine Kish — who was on a three-fight losing streak and had lost five of her last six fights — came in and took it to former women’s Flyweight champion and current No. 1 ranked fighter in the division, Ilima-Lei Macfarlane. Kish refused to roll over and play dead for the hometown favorite, winning on all the judges scorecards to hand the former champion her second straight defeat.
And finally, though she didn’t come out on top, Arlene Blencowe gave Cris Cyborg one of her stiffest tests in a while, taking the dominant women’s Featherweight champion the distance for the first time in her Bellator career.
For five rounds, Blencowe stood toe-to-toe with one of the most ferocious female strikers the sport has ever seen, going as far as challenging Cyborg to meet her in the center of the cage and trade in the final round. Bloodied and battered, Blencowe took several of the champion’s best shots and delivered several of her own, earning the respect and adoration of Cyborg and fan’s alike.
Despite failing to win the title and becoming the latest notch on Cyborg’s belt, Blencowe showed improvements from their first fight, which saw the former UFC and Strikeforce champion submit “Angerfist” in the second round.
Indeed, the underdogs showed out and proved that if you’re a gambling man/woman, betting the house on perceived guaranteed lock in mixed martial arts (MMA) is one of the riskiest of things to do in the world of sports.
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