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Sinead Kavanagh says Cris Cyborg ‘playing mind games’ ahead of Bellator 271: ‘She didn’t want this fight’

Sinead Kavanagh
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Sinead Kavanagh is out to make history at Bellator 271 on Friday night, aiming to dethrone featherweight queen Cris Cyborg in Hollywood, Fla. The Irish talent has gone as far as to say that the Brazilian icon has done everything she could to avoid facing her inside the Bellator cage.

“She didn’t want this fight,” Kavanagh said during Wednesday’s virtual media day. “She’s doing everything not to have this fight. Saying I wasn’t good enough, calling out other people, blocking me on social media, blocking anyone that mentions my name on social media. She blocked Jon [Kavanagh]. It’s crazy what’s going on. It’s crazy what she’s doing. Do you know what it is? It’s only weakness on her part.”

According to Kavanagh, Cyborg’s “mind games” has only gotten worse during fight week.

“You won’t even believe what they’re up to,” Kavanagh said. “They’re out there tagging me in their suplex… We’re out running, she’s in her sweat gear, 2 o’clock in the afternoon, blistering heat in her sweat gear. She’s out there running and my and my missus were walking past and video camera-ing it and stuff like that.

“She has these cards, Squid Game cards with her face on it, and she’s leaving them everywhere I go… leaving them in my corner, leaving them on my floor. She’s trying to play mind games, trying to break me, but she can’t. That’s what she does to her opponents, you know?”

Cyborg won her first three Bellator bouts with finishes over Julia Budd, Arlene Blencowe and Leslie Smith after a stellar career in Strikeforce, Invicta FC and the UFC, but Kavanagh thinks Cyborg was trying to avoid her.

“I was next in line and she was calling out other people,” Kavanagh said. “And she was saying that, from No. 10 girl to No. 1 is good enough to fight her, but except No. 5, she’s not good enough. That’s the game she’s being playing. And then, I got the call, I was emotional because it’s all overdue - should be here. It was emotional, a rollercoaster for me, and it’s finally happening. It’s finally here. I’m ready to get going.”

Kavanagh promises that those “mental games” only add “fuel” to the fire, though.

“Leslie Smith was the same,” said Kavanagh, who lost a majority decision to Smith in July 2019 before going on to beat Olga Rubin and Katharina Lehner in her following bouts to secure a title shot. “Sitting beside me, laughing at me, doing all these horrible things. That’s fuel for me. That’s probably my best performance against Leslie Smith. Just wonder what I’m gonna do to her now on Friday night.”

Cyborg is a violent striker who has shown patience and grappling skills inside the cage, especially since losing to Amanda Nunes in 2018, but Kavanagh points out that Cyborg gets “too much [respect from her opponents] in the cage.”

“The cage is not to be given respect, the cage is to fight,” she said, “and the cage is to leave my soul in there and that’s exactly what I’m going to do on Friday night.”

“I’m trying to see where it goes,” Kavanagh said when asked of her strategy going into Bellator 271. “I’m not going to rush into things here. I rush into things I’m gonna play into her game. I’m gonna take my time, look what’s around me, look what’s happening, and just take from there and see where the fight goes. I’m prepared at every level. Wherever this goes, I’m prepared to go.”

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