Cris Cyborg delivered a dominant victory in the cage on Friday night and provided a challenge shortly thereafter.
Cyborg stopped Leslie Smith for the second time in the main event of Bellator 259. This was a much different fight than their first meeting a little over five years ago at UFC 198 where Cyborg finished Smith in just over a minute. In her second defense of her Bellator featherweight title, the champion retained with a TKO in the final seconds of the five-round headliner.
“I’ve been [fighting for] 16 years and I have a lot of experience and you can’t be the GOAT if you’re scared of the Cat,” Cyborg told reporters following her victory on Friday night. “I asked for it and, if Scott Coker agrees with me, I would would like to fight Cat Zingano.
“No disrespect to her. I know she’s a real fighter and I know it’s gonna be a great fight between us.”
While Cyborg was never in any real danger, Smith showed a tremendous amount of patience, grit and determination through the 24-plus minutes of action. Smith was dropped and hurt multiple times in the fight, but the veteran fighter kept fighting and getting into exchanges with the champion.
Cyborg dropped Smith with a big right hand and the challenger looked like she was out, but it appeared that the follow up shots on the ground may have woken Smith back up. Unfortunately for Smith, Cyborg continued to deliver heavy shots before the referee called it at the 4:51 mark of the final round.
“I really put some clean shots on her and she handled it, but I knew she was tough,” Cyborg said. “I knew I needed more than one punch to put her to sleep, she wasn’t gonna stop. I knew this.
“Sometimes after you hit, you hit again and the person wakes up, but I saw sometimes she was out a little bit but I kept punching her and waited for the referee to stop it.”