The fight matched two inexperienced MMA athletes -- Vera is a former pro kickboxer making her MMA debut, while Smith entered the cage with a 1-0 record -- but they looked like a couple of tough old pros as they pounded on each other for 15 minutes. Smith showed off several impressive high kicks and bloodied Vera's nose, while Vera blackened Smith's eye and displayed powerful punching, levelng Smith with a hard right hand in the second round.
Vera is fairly well known to MMA fans as the wife of UFC fighter Brandon Vera, but she showed against Smith that she's a tough, hard-nosed fighter in her own right. The judges awarded her the unanimous decision by scores of 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.
Smith vs. Vera was only the second women's MMA fight that Bellator has had, but Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney told me the organization is committed to signing more female fighters and expanding its presence in the women's MMA world. Rebney said he hopes to see more female fights in Bellator's second season in the fall of 2009, and possibly a women's tournament in the spring of 2010. It's safe to say every fan who took in their fight in Chicago tonight will want to see Smith and Vera again.