Cris Cyborg stops Arlene Blencowe for first career submission win

Cris Cyborg has added yet another item to the most impressive resume in women’s MMA history once again.



Cristiane Justino standing in front of a crowd


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The only fighter of either gender to hold championships in four major promotions, Cyborg (23-2 MMA,  2-0 BMMA) made the first successful defense of her Bellator featherweight title on Thursday night, and notched the first submission victory of her career in the process.

Cyborg submitted Australia’s Arlene Blencowe with a rear-naked choke at the 2:36 mark of the second round to retain her belt in the main event of Bellator 249 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.

“I’ve really been working hard because I had first submission in MMA,” Cyborg said in her post-fight interview. “I never did that before since the beginning of my career, it is a dream come true, and I am so happy.”

There seemed little doubt of the fight’s outcome from the outset. Cyborg initiated the action by moving forward and landing leg kicks. Blencowe (13-8 MMA, 6-4 BMMA) made one attempt to stave off a vintage Cyborg flurry, but she was met with a furious onslaught in response.

Cyborg outstruck Blencowe 62-4 over the course of the fight. When she got Blencowe to the mat in the first, she telegraphed her intentions by going for a choke. She didn’t get it there. But in the second Cyborg got a takedown, rained down punches from full mount, and finally got the opening for her RNC finish.

Cyborg’s first career submission win was her 19th career finish. Blencowehad a three-fight win streak snapped.

Complete Bellator 249 results:

Cris Cyborg def. Arlene Blencowe via submission (rear-naked choke) — Round 1, 2:36 – retains featherweight title Leandro Higo def. Ricky Bandejas via submission (rear-naked choke) — Round 2, 2:32 Steve Mowry def. Shawn Teed via TKO (knee and punches) — Round 1, 4:22 Saad Awad vs. Mandel Nallo is ruled a no-contest (accidental groin strike) — Round 1, 1:44 Andrew Kapel def. Joseph Creer via TKO (doctor stoppage) — Round 2, 5:00 Kemran Lachinov def. Kyle Crutchmer via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) Christian Edwards def. Hamza Salim via submission (rear-naked choke) — Round 2, 1:28 Da’Mon Blackshear def. Mike Kimbel via submission (rear-naked choke) — Round 2, 4:14 Aviv Gozali def. Logan Neal via submission (Kimura) — Round 1, 3:22 Albert Gonzales def. Kastriot Xhema via TKO (retirement) — Round 2, 5:00 MORE:

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Bellator 249 results, highlights: Cris Cyborg retains title in dominating fashion with first career submission

Throughout a legendary career spanning 15 years as a women’s MMA pioneer, Cris Cyborg had yet to record a submission victory as a professional entering Thursday’s Bellator 249 card. It took less than two rounds for that factoid to need updating as Cyborg continued to evolve her game deep into her career. 

Cyborg (23-2, 1 NC) made the first defense of her Bellator MMA women’s featherweight title with a dominant second-round submission win over top contender Arlene Blencowe (13-8) inside the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. 

A former Strikeforce and UFC champion, the 35-year-old Cyborg showcased not just an increasingly patient striking attack but an ever-growing ground game that included two takedowns and a submission finish via rear-naked choke. 

“I was really working hard because I wanted my first submission in MMA. I never did that before,” Cyborg said. “This is a dream come true. I’m very happy and excited for the next one.” 

Blencowe, a 37-year-old native of Australia, had only lost in the previous five years under the Bellator banner to the same fighter twice by close decision in former champion Julia Budd. But that’s the same fighter Cyborg demolished in January to capture her 145-pound crown and she made even quicker work of Blencowe by using inside leg kicks and pressure to force her back to the cage at will. 

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After a lengthy standing clinch in the opening round, Cyborg swept Blencowe to secure the takedown and quickly moved to full mount before raining down clean punches. Although Blencowe was able to return to her feet shortly before the bell, the offensive surge from the champion only continued in Round 2.

Cyborg ducked a left hook and came forward to draw blood from Blencowe’s nose with a flurry of power shots. A takedown followed before Cyborg began to score with punches from full mount, which led Blencowe to give up her back and tapped out at 2:36 of the round.

“This is amazing. I can hear my corner [in the empty arena] and it’s like a video game,” Cyborg said. “I trained really hard. I always have to improve my game and get better and better.” 

The next challenger to Cyborg’s title could come from the winner of a proposed (but not signed) bout between Budd and former UFC bantamweight title challenger Cat Zingano. When asked whom she preferred to fight next, Cyborg stuck to her guns by continuing to refuse to call opponents out.

“Now the division has so many girls and I’m very happy here in Bellator,” Cyborg said. “[Bellator MMA president] Scott Coker is the man who will tell me who is next and I just have to be ready.” 

CBS Sports was with you throughout the evening for the latest updates, highlights

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