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Lindsey VanZandt was able to submit Rena Kubota in the first round at Bellator 222. Since the Rizin Fighting Federation versus Bellator MMA cross promotion started, a lot of attention has gone to the men's bantamweight titles for both promotions with Bellator losing to Rizin on both accounts. However, it just took a little 111-pound New Yorker in VanZandt to win a fight for Bellator.
When speaking to the media, VanZandt was asked if she considered the win a breakthrough one for her career and she said that it was. Kubota was not sent from Rizin because her name was pulled from a hat, she is an accomplished competitor in Japan who made it to the finals in Rizin's Atomweight Grand Prix in 2017. Coincidentally, Scott Coker wants to continue the relationship with Rizin and VanZandt said after her win she normally competes at atomweight.
Her first-round finish of Kubota will likely mean more business with Bellator and that win will likely have her name in minds of Rizin fans as well. VanZandt said she knew her opponent "was really good, her background was unbelievable." However, she knew Kubota's strengths were in the striking department and realized she needed to get her to the ground quickly.
VanZandt knew she was a big underdog which made the victory that much sweeter. "I was happy to prove everybody wrong," she said. With that win in the first round, despite admitting that Kubota was superior on the feet and took a few shots, she is looking to return to action soon. "I'm ready for whatever, I'm always ready."
Edward Carbajal serves as the lead MMA analyst for Frontproof Media and holds a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and a brown belt in Ishin Ryu karate. He has covered combat sports since 2014 and has been a fan of MMA since the first UFC. You can follow him on Twitter @Carbazel or at his website TheBlogBoardJungle.com.