Sinead Kavanagh and her handlers believe she can scale the mountain in front of her, even if it seems virtually no one else does.
The SBG Ireland export will challenge Cristiane Justino for the undisputed Bellator MMA women’s featherweight championship in the Bellator 271 main event this Saturday at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Kavanagh enters the cage on a modest two-fight winning streak. She last competed on Oct. 3, 2020, when she took a three-round unanimous decision from Katharina Lehner at a Bellator show in Italy. Justino, meanwhile, has rattled off four straight victories, three of them finishes, since her ill-fated encounter with Amanda Nunes nearly three years ago. “Cyborg” last fought at Bellator 259, where she took care of Leslie Smith with punches in the fifth round of their May 21 rematch.
As Kavanagh and Justino approach their head-to-head showdown, a look at some of the numbers that have accompanied them to this point:
36: Years of age for Justino, who was born on July 9, 1985 in Curitiba, Brazil.
19: Justino wins by knockout or technical knockout, accounting for 79% of her career total (24). Her extensive list of victims includes Smith (twice), Marloes Coenen (twice), Julia Budd, Yana Kunitskaya, Tonya Evinger, Gina Carano and Shayna Baszler. Justino owns one other win by submission—she tapped Arlene Blencowe with a rear-naked choke at Bellator 249 in October 2020—and four more by decision.
7: Promotions in which Justino has competed as a mixed martial artist. She has gone 6-1 in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, 5-0 in Invicta Fighting Championships, 4-0 in Strikeforce, 4-0 in Storm Samurai, 3-0 in Bellator, 2-0 in EliteXC and 0-1 in Showfight.
10: First-round stoppage victories on the Justino resume, two of the sub-minute variety. She buried Charmaine Tweet with punches in 46 seconds at Invicta 11 on Feb. 27, 2015 and cut down Faith McMah with a knee to the body and follow-up punches in 45 seconds at Invicta 13 on July 9, 2015.
3,399: Days Justino has spent as a champion in either the UFC (517), Bellator (657), Strikeforce (874) or Invicta (1,351). She laid claim to the Bellator women’s featherweight crown with a fourth-round technical knockout of the aforementioned Budd on Jan. 25, 2020 and has subsequently retained it on two occasions.
35: Years of age for Kavanagh, who was born in Inchicore, Ireland, on Feb. 1, 1986.
4: Kavanagh wins by knockout or technical knockout, accounting for 57% of her career total (seven). Her complete list of victims: Olga Rubin, Maria Casanova, Katarzyna Sadura and Hatice Ozyurt. Kavanagh holds three other wins by decision.
17: Seconds needed for Kavanagh to punch out Ozyurt in her September 2015 professional debut under the British Association of Mixed Martial Arts banner. It remains the fastest finish of her 11-fight career.
6: Consecutive calendar years in which Kavanagh has made at least one appearance. She went 1-0 in 2015, 3-0 in 2016, 1-2 in 2017, 0-1 in 2018, 1-1 in 2019 and 1-0 in 2020.
.578: Cumulative winning percentage between the four women—Smith, Blencowe, Janay Harding and Iony Razafiarison—who have defeated Kavanagh. They sport a combined record of 37-27-1.
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