Arlene Blencowe Not Yet Out of Time

Arlene Blencowe leads a one-fight-at-a-time existence. At the age of 41, the three-time Bellator MMA title challenger understands she only has so many punches left to throw.

“I know that I’m closer to the end of my career than to the beginning,” she told Sherdog.com, “but I’m not putting a timeline on it.”

Blencowe will rematch Sinead Kavanagh when their women’s featherweight showcase helps anchor the Bellator Champions Series 3 main card this Saturday at 3Arena in Dublin. “Angerfist” enters the cage on the heels of two straight defeats and in search of her first win in more than 31 months. Blencowe last fought at Bellator 294, where she dropped a unanimous decision to 2004 Olympic silver medalist Sara McMann on April 21, 2023. Nevertheless, she manages to keep self-doubt at bay.

“It’s hard to put everything into a sport, put everything into a fight camp,” Blencowe said. “I’m on back-to-back losses at the moment, but I’ve had to pull myself out of that and keep the fire burning. That takes a lot of courage.”

Still part of Bellator’s plans at 145 pounds, Blencowe faces a familiar foe in her latest assignment. The Aussie outpointed Kavanagh to a split decision at Bellator 182 in August 2017 and puts almost no stock in their first encounter.

“Seven years is a long time,” she said, “and for sure, both of us have evolved in that time. I’m definitely not looking at what happened in our last fight. The last time we fought, we basically had a boxing fight for three rounds in four-ounce gloves. I think this time will be completely different. Both of us will want to showcase that we are more well-rounded fighters than just boxers.”

A 25-fight veteran, Blencowe admits old habits are hard to break.

“I think I know that when the s--- hits the fan, we’ll both revert back to what we know, which will be slogging it out with our fists,” she said. “At the end of the day, that’s what the crowd likes to see, as well. Either way, whatever fight presents itself in front of me in the cage, I think it’s going to be an entertaining one. It’ll be one that the fans will enjoy, which is obviously what we both want to do—put on a fight for everyone.”

Blencowe will have gone 428 days between fights by the time she steps into the cage, and the extended absence from competition has challenged her, physically and mentally.

“I’ve had a very long camp,” Blencowe said. “In my almost 16 years of fighting, this will be the longest time that I haven’t competed. I’ve had a long layoff. I’ve been preparing. I was hoping this fight would have happened late last year, so I’ve had a really, really long camp. I started preparations back in August.”

Ahead of her rematch with Kavanagh, Blencowe has spent time at the Freestyle Fighting Gym in her native Australia, City Kickboxing in New Zealand and Bangtao Muay Thai in Thailand before completing her camp at Jackson-Wink MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“This has been a really, really good camp,” she said. “Obviously, it’s always hard work here training at altitude, [with] all my training partners and coaches pushing me. I’ve worked hard as always but really enjoyed it. I’m feeling fit and I’m feeling strong and ready to go.”

Kavanagh has won four of her past six bouts. However, the 38-year-old SBG Ireland mainstay finds herself on the rebound following a split decision defeat to Sara Collins at Bellator 299 on Sept. 23. Kavanagh figures to have a healthy homefield advantage—she was born in the Dublin suburb of Inchicore—once the cage closes. Blencowe has grown accustomed to such challenges.

“To be fair, I haven’t had a hometown fight in many, many years,” she said. “Obviously, Bellator hasn’t been over to Australia yet, so I’m kind of used to being the underdog. I’ve definitely mentally prepared. Sinead’s got a big following in Ireland, and the Irish crowd will be very, very loud. They’ll be backing her, and I’m expecting some boos when I’m walking out. That’s nothing that I won’t be prepared for. I’m definitely not used to it, because usually when I walk out, I do have a little bit of the fan following supporting me. I think once we get in there and start fighting, the crowd will just be happy to see two girls throwing down and putting on a good fight.”

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