Cris Cyborg continued her dominance in Bellator.
Cyborg all but had her way with Leslie Smith for the majority of their championship main event before winning by TKO at the 4:51 mark of Round 5 to retain her women’s featherweight title.
The title fight was a rematch of a 2016 UFC bout in which Cyborg (24-2 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) stopped Smith (12-9-1 MMA, 2-3 BMMA) in the first round. The bout was contested at a 140-pound catchweight, and it marked Cyborg’s debut with the UFC.
In the first two rounds Friday, Cyborg completely dominated the action. The Brazilian connected with hard shots and wobbled and dropped Smith multiple times. On the ground, Cyborg was also ahead, scoring time on top while landing ground-and-pound.
Round 3 was Smith’s best. She avoided many big shots and absorbed less damage while also landing a few strikes of her own. Still, Cyborg maintained control and dominated the majority of the exchanges.
The last two rounds saw a much more patient Cyborg. She picked her shots and remained ahead on the scorecards, but her volume and aggression seemed significantly lower. She also mixed in takedowns in her offense, not often seen in her previous bouts.
Bellator 259 results: Austin Vanderford suffers nasty gash in decision win vs. Fabian Edwards
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Leah McCourt turns tables with upkick, submits Janay Harding in wild Bellator 259 finish
With the fight winding down, Cyborg countered with a right hook that sent Smith to the canvas. She followed up with a barrage of punches to force the referee to call off the fight before the bell sounded.
With the result, Cyborg is now on a three-fight winning streak under the Bellator banner and on a four-fight run since her TKO defeat against two-division UFC champion Amanda Nunes back in 2018.
Meanwhile, Smith now has alternating wins and loses since joining Bellator in 2019.
Complete Bellator 259 results include:
Cris Cyborg def. Leslie Smith via TKO (strikes) – Round 5, 4:51
Leandro Higo def. Darrion Caldwell via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Austin Vanderford def. Fabian Edwards via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Jaleel Willis def. Maycon Mendonca via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Hannah Guy def. Valerie Loureda via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Saad Awad def. Nate Andrews via knockout (punch) – Round 1, 3:16
Grant Neal def. Tyree Fortune via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 4:20
Sumiko Inaba def. Kristina Katsikis via TKO (strikes) – Round 3, 3:35
Aviv Gozali def. Sean Felton via submission (heel hook) – Round 1, 1:17
Davion Franklin def. Tyler King via knockout (punches) – Round 1, 2:02
Leah McCourt def. Janay Harding via submission (triangle choke) – Round 2, 2:42
Danny Sabatello def. Brett Johns via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Alexander Shabliy def. Alfie Davis via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)