Cris Cyborg remains untouchable inside the Bellator cage, but she had to work for it this time.
On Saturday night at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center in Honolulu, Cyborg retained her featherweight title with a unanimous decision win over Arlene Blencowe in the main event of Bellator 279. Like in their first encounter at Bellator 249, Cyborg battered Blencowe all over the cage, but the featherweight champion was unable to secure a finish this time around, being stymied by the sheer determination and toughness of Blencowe.
Early on it looked like this would be a repeat of their first fight when Cyborg dropped Blencowe in the first round, nearly finishing the fight there before an illegal knee to Blencowe’s head caused a break in the action and led referee Jason Herzog to deduct a point from Cyborg. That brief respite allowed Blencowe to recover enough to make it out of the round.
Things improved for Blencowe from there though as in the second and third rounds, Cyborg appeared content to have almost exclusively a kickboxing match, and while Cyborg certainly landed more and landed the bigger shots, Blencowe found a home for her right hand as well, even catching the champion off balance on a couple of occasions.
In the championship rounds, Blencowe, her face a bloody mask at that point, continued to press the issue with Cyborg, creating exchanges and never backing down. Ultimately, Blencowe was simply overmatched against the featherweight champion, but she gave a tremendous account of herself and became the first person to survive five rounds with Cyborg inside the Bellator cage. In the end, Cyborg won a clear unanimous decision and made her fourth defense of her featherweight title.
Stots stuns Archuleta to claim interim bantamweight title
In the co-main event of the evening, Raufeon Stots scored the biggest win of his career, finishing former champion Juan Archuleta to claim the interim bantamweight title. After a competitive first two rounds that saw Archuleta actually look to takedown the two-time D-II National Champion, Archuleta ducked into a head kick from Stots just seconds into the third round that sent him tumbling to the canvas where Stots quickly finished the job. It was the first stoppage loss of Archuleta’s career an the first knockout of Stots’ Bellator career.
The fight was also the second quarterfinal bout in the Bellator Bantamweight Grand Prix and as a result, Stots has secured his spot in the semi-finals, where he will face the winner of Leandro Higo vs. Danny Sabatello.
" " ! @RaufeonStots becomes the first person to KO @jarchmma, claiming the Interim-Bantamweight Championship and advancing to the #BellatorBWGP Semi-finals.#Bellator279 is LIVE on @SHOsports. pic.twitter.com/FcM8aVOdEQ— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) April 24, 2022
Kish upsets Macfarlane
In what was arguably the biggest surprise of the night, Justin Kish scored the biggest win of her career by upsetting Ilima-Lei Macfarlane in front of the former flyweight champion’s own hometown crowd. It was a fairly tepid performance from both women as they only landed a combined 63 strikes between the two of them, but Kish simply did a little bit more than Macfarlane, scoring multiple takedowns and controlling the position for much of the fight. In the end, Kish won a unanimous decision with scores of 30-27, 29-28, and 29-28. The loss is Macfarlane’s second in a row, while Kish moves to 1-1 inside the Bellator cage.
Mix out-grapples Horiguchi
In the first bout of the Bellator Bantamweight Grand Prix, Patchy Mix kicked things off with an upset, winning a clear unanimous decision over one-time champion Kyoji Horiguchi. Mix was able to dominate large portions of the fight with his grappling skills, repeatedly taking the back and holding onto it for rounds at a time. Horiguchi was able to make it competitive in spots, but he simply could not consistently escape from Mix. With the win, Mix punched his ticket to the semifinals of the Grand Prix where he will face the winner of Magomed Magomedov vs. Enrique Barzola.
Medeiros wins exciting scrap with Sanchez
Also on the main card, Yancy Medeiros made a successful Bellator debut, winning a tremendous scrap with Emmanuel Sanchez in the main card opener. For 15 minutes, Medeiros and Sanchez went toe-to-toe with Medeiros’ jab being the big difference maker in the fight. In the end, he took home the unanimous decision win and put the Hawaiian crowd into a frenzy.
Full Bellator 279 Results
Cris Cyborg def. Arlene Blencowe by unanimous decision (49-45, 49-45, 49-45)
Raufeon Stots def. Juan Archuleta by TKO (knee and punches) at 0:16 of R3.
Patchy Mix def. Kyoji Horiguchi via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47)