Photo: MMA Fighting
Cris Cyborg (23-2-1) is expected to make her 2nd title defense against former UFC opponent in the form of Leslie Smith (12-8-1) in Bellator’s 259 main event located in the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut on May 21st streamed exclusively on Showtime.
These two formerly met inside the UFC Octagon back in 2016, as a catchweight bout in which the debuting Cyborg brutally dominated and finished Smith in the very first round in what would be the beginning of an impressive UFC run for Cyborg with her finishing 4 of her 6 wins in devastating fashion. Now, both women are in Bellator and this fight will be held for Cyborg’s featherweight belt.
So far, in their respective careers, both women have gone down different paths. Cyborg has been one of the most dominant women in the history of MMA. She’s one of the greatest female combatants of all time being in the same conversation with fighters like Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko. Cyborg has been a destroyer everywhere from small organizations such as Invicta FC and EliteXC to the big companies like the UFC, Strikeforce, and Bellator.
On the other hand, Smith has a good career but not a great one. However, she is 4-1 in her last 5 bouts, but not many expect Smith to have a chance against the champion especially with her last loss coming to Arlene Blencowe who just lost to Cyborg in her own title bid. It’s easy to see why she received a title shot because of the simple fact Bellator is still trying to add depth into their women’s featherweight division. Arguably, other than Cyborg, Julia Budd, and Cat Zingano there are not many elite featherweights to challenge for the belt. Cyborg disposed of Julia Budd in convincing fashion to win the championship, and if she beats Smith, which many believe will happen, the only challenger left will be Zingano.
The same problem always arises for Cyborg, she always seems to run out of challengers.
Also on the card, will be former UFC bantamweight prospect Brett Johns, rising prospect Valerie Loureda, and middleweight Austin Vanderford.