Bellator featherweight champ Cris Cyborg threw her team’s gameplan out the window and decided to slug it out with boxer Sinead Kavanagh, slinging leather until she found Kavanagh’s chin and ended the fight in Bellator 271’s headliner.
Kavanagh also found Cyborg’s chin with a left hook. But Cyborg’s right hand was just a little more accurate and knocked out the Irish native at the 1:32 mark of the opening frame at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Fla.
“I didn’t do anything my team planned, so sorry,” Cyborg said afterward. “But I feel great about it.”
Check out the finish below.
Afterward, Cyborg said she asked to face Cat Zingano in her next title defense, but welcomed any fight offered by her promoter. As it happened, one intriguing option sat cageside in two-time PFL champ Kayla Harrison, who entered free agency with her latest tournament win.
“Kayla, thank you for coming to the fights,” Cyborg said. “I really appreciate you here. If you want to fight me one day, it’s going to be a great fight, but [Harrison manager] Ali Abdelaziz have to talk to all the promotions to make this happen.”
Cyborg has now defended her title three times after dethroning Julia Budd in her Bellator debut. Kavanagh sees a two-fight winning streak snapped.
Vassell goes out on top against Fortune
Fortune repeatedly blitzed Vassell with overhand hands and flurries of knees inside the clinch. When Vassell survived, he worked to scoop the Brit’s legs, only to find himself on bottom in scrambles. Vassell made the most of his time, advancing to mount or threatening chokes from back control. By the third round, all of the grappling had worn out Fortune, and he gave away position to let Vassell whack away at his head for the final stretch of the fight.
Although one judge awarded Fortune the fight with a 29-28 score, the other two had it for Vasell by the same tally, bringing the U.K. standout his third straight win in the Bellator cage. Long aggrieved by a lack of opportunities, Fortune’s stock takes another hit after earning a three-fight winning streak in the wake of a knockout loss to Timothy Johnson.
Pico sees scorecards for first time
There were only a few moments early on in Aaron Pico’s Bellator 271 appearance when his win was in doubt, and that was when he was playing fast and loose with his techniques against the undefeated Justin Gonzales. A spinning hook kick brought a swift correction from coach Greg Jackson, and that was the end of that – until the last 10 seconds, when the win was in comfortable reach.
Pico again used his primary skillset of wrestling to control Gonzales, who refused to go away but managed to take the young star somewhere he’d never before been: the scorecards. Two judges gave Pico the 30-27 shutout while the third awarded him a 30-26, the result of punishing work at all ranges. Body shots had Gonzales in deep trouble midway through the first, and an elbow visibly rattled him in the second. Chokes were the main threat in the third, but Sanchez did just enough to survive. Only in the first moments of the fight, when he landed a nice overhand right and some stinging leg kicks, was the undefeated fighter in reach of the upset.
Pico showed a fight IQ to go with his powerful punches and takedowns, and despite the length of the engagement showed again his potential in the Bellator cage. With five straight wins, he’ll climb the ranks in his next match, while Gonzales will reset after upsetting Tywan Claxton.
Blencowe peppers Sorenson for decision
For the first two rounds of her featherweight contest with Arlene Blencowe, Pam Sorenson’s main respite from an arrow-straight right hand was the clinch. When she wasn’t able to tie up Blencowe, she took shot after shot with that attack, leaving her left cheek bloody and right brow swollen. By the third round, her persistent wrestling efforts took some of the steam of Blencowe’s punches, making her comfortable enough to slug it out in the final round. She wasn’t going to reverse the trend with low kicks and a few punches, however, and dropped a unanimous decision via scores of 30-27 twice and 29-28.
Full Bellator 271 results:
Cris Cyborg def. Sinead Kavanagh via KO (punches) – Round 1, 1:32
Linton Vassell def. Tyrell Fortune via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Aaron Pico def. Justin Gonzales via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
Arlene Blencowe def. Pam Sorenson via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Waldo Cortes-Acosta def. Muhammed DeReese via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)