Those who dare to stand and trade with Cristiane Justino do so at their own peril.
“Cyborg” retained the undisputed Bellator MMA women’s featherweight championship in resounding fashion, as she knocked out Sinead Kavanagh in the first round of their Bellator 271 headliner on Friday at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Kavanagh (7-5, 4-5 Bellator) bit the dust 92 seconds into Round 1, her name having been added to the Brazilian juggernaut’s long list of victims.
Justino (25-2, 4-0 Bellator) blitzed out of the gate, settled into the clinch and then drifted back to open space. The two women traded shots along the fence, and though Kavanagh circled out and connected, her chin could not withstand the return fire. Justino folded her with a clean right hook, trailed her to the canvas and drew the curtain with hammerfists.
Meanwhile, Sanford MMA export Linton Vassell won for the third time in as many outings, as he took a split decision from Tyrell Fortune in the three-round heavyweight co-main event. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28: Troy Wincapaw for Fortune, Eric Colon and Chris Lee for Vassell.
Fortune (11-2, 11-2 Bellator) fought well in bursts but allowed momentum to slip from his grasp repeatedly in what became a frustrating exercise. Vassell (21-8, 10-5 Bellator) surprised the Arizona Combat Sports rep with a takedown in the first round, consolidating his efforts by advancing to the back, applying his ground-and-pound and hunting for the choke. Fortune made considerable strides in the middle stanza, where he cracked the Brit with jab-cross combinations, knee strikes from the clinch and sporadic kicks. However, Vassell managed to spring a reversal in the closing seconds, moved to the back once more and nearly finished it with the rear-naked choke. Fortune blasted the former Ultimate Challenge MMA champion with knees from the Thai clinch early in Round 3, only to squander his gains with a low blow that resulted in an extended pause in the action. Once the fight resumed, Vassell conceded a takedown but swept into top position, climbed to full mount and ultimately shifted to the back, where he piled up points and chewed precious time off the clock.
The setback halted Fortune’s run of consecutive victories at three.
Elsewhere, Jackson-Wink MMA standout Aaron Pico overwhelmed former Legacy Fighting Alliance champion Justin Gonzales with speed, athleticism, technique and sheer force of will, as he captured a unanimous decision in their three-round featherweight attraction. Pico (9-3, 9-3 Bellator) carried all three scorecards: 30-27, 30-27 and 30-26.
Gonzales (12-1, 1-1 Bellator) connected on occasion but spent the vast majority of his time playing defense. Pico unleashed lightning-quick body-head punching combinations and a few sneaky head kicks but did his best work with takedowns, scrambles and positional advances. The variety kept Gonzales guessing, and he often guessed wrong. Pico struck for multiple takedowns in all three rounds, sliced through the Dana White’s Contender Series alum’s guard and made everyone aware of the fact that he was the superior martial artist.
The 25-year-old Pico will ride a five-fight winning streak into his next assignment.
Finally, Arlene Blencowe leaned on power punching combinations and sublime takedown defense, as she cruised to a unanimous decision over former King of the Cage and Invicta Fighting Championships titleholder Pam Sorenson in a three-round women’s featherweight showcase. All three judges sided with the Jackson-Wink MMA-trained Blencowe (15-8, 8-4 Bellator): 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27.
Sorenson (9-4, 1-1 Bellator) tried to counteract the Australian’s gains in the standup through a steady diet of leg kicks and tie-ups paired with close-range knee and elbow strikes. Her efforts proved largely unsuccessful. Blencowe punished her with clubbing right hands and the occasional left hook, opening a cut on the Minnesotan’s right cheek and raising a significant hematoma above her left eye.
Blencowe, 38, has rattled off five wins in six appearances.
In other action, Steve Mowry (10-0, 6-0 Bellator) submitted Rakim Cleveland (22-14-1, 0-1 Bellator) with a kimura 3:28 into the first round of their featured heavyweight prelim; Bruna Ellen (5-3, 4-3 Bellator) wound up on the right side of a split decision—29-28, 28-29, 29-28)—against Desiree Yanez (5-4, 0-2 Bellator) in a three-round women’s flyweight scrap; Roman Faraldo (6-0, 3-0 Bellator) wiped out Robert Turnquest (9-8, 0-1 Bellator) with a flying knee and authored a “Knockout of the Year” contender 1:17 into the first round of their welterweight encounter; Cody Law (5-0, 5-0 Bellator) took care of Colton Hamm (4-4, 0-1 Bellator) with a volley of elbows 4:21 into the first round of their featherweight affair; Valerie Loureda (4-1, 4-1 Bellator) eked out a split verdict—29-28, 28-29, 30-27—against Taylor Turner (5-8, 1-2 Bellator) in a three-round catchweight clash at 128 pounds; Waldo Cortes-Acosta (4-0, 1-0 Bellator) laid claim to a unanimous decision over Muhammed DeReese (9-5, 0-1 Bellator) in a three-round heavyweight tilt, drawing 30-27 scores across the board; and Ethan Hughes (3-0, 1-0 Bellator) put away Mahmoud Sebie Fawzy (3-1, 0-1 Bellator) with punches 4:05 into the third round of their welterweight pairing.
« Previous Bellator 271 ‘Cyborg vs. Kavanagh’ Play-by-Play, Results & Round Scoring Next UFC Fight Night 197 Prelims: Upstart Joel Alvarez Wrecks Favored Thiago Moises in Las Vegas »