Did Cyborg’s performance at Bellator 271 sway Kayla Harrison?

MMA, PFL

This past weekend at Bellator 271, one of the greatest female fighters of all time returned to defend her featherweight crown. Cris Cyborg (25-2) headlined the event when she took on Ireland’s Sinead Kavanagh (7-5).

Of course, Cyborg was a massive betting favorite and nobody really gave Kavanagh a shot at Bellator 271. In fact, the biggest storyline of the main event was more about who was sitting front and center to watch the event.

Kayla Harrison (12-0) is the hottest free agent in the sport right now. The two-time PFL champion and two-time Olympic Gold Medalist was there to watch Cyborg as Harrison is currently trying to figure out where she wants to go next.

Cyborg’s job was to make Harrison interested in fighting her. Harrison is someone who always wants to take on the best and maybe that fueled Cyborg. In her last few Bellator appearances, Cyborg has been much more calculated and measured than we’ve seen her in the past.

However, all of that went out the window at Bellator 271. Cyborg ran through Sinead Kavanagh and threw caution to the wind. The champion was able to land a clean right hand just over a minute in that knocked Kavanagh out.

Harrison to Bellator?

Kayla Harrison got the free agent treatment at Bellator 271. She was shown at the broadcast and Big John McCarthy asked Cyborg about Harrison in her post-fight interview. During the question, the camera panned to the two-time PFL champion who had a big smile on her face.

To me, the race for Harrison is going to come down to PFL and Bellator. I don’t see the UFC getting involved at a high level due to the fact that there’s only one real top fight for Harrison right now. That fight would be with Amanda Nunes who is her teammate and close friend.

With that, I think Harrison is zeroing in on PFL and Bellator. PFL has made her a star and they are going to do everything they can to keep her. However, the competitor in her might want to jump over to Bellator to take on the likes of Cris Cyborg.

From the beginning, I’ve favored Bellator in her free agency. I think they can pay her a very good wage and I think the competition is there. However, this is something that is extremely fluid and until Harrison signs, I wouldn’t be shocked by anything.

Bellator 271 Preview: Aaron Pico – Justin Gonzales

Tonight on the main card of Bellator 271, one of the biggest prospects in all of MMA will be making his 12th appearance. Aaron Pico (8-3) is back tonight as he takes on the unbeaten contender series veteran in Justin Gonzales (12-0).

Let me just get this out of the way, Justin Gonzales is no joke. Gonzales is a former LFA champion and he won his fight on Dana White’s Contender Series. After that shot on the Contender Series, he won his title in LFA before being picked up by Bellator.

Gonzales made his Bellator debut back in June with a split decision win over Ty-Wan Claxton. In his last seven wins, Gonzales has gone on to finish his opponent. That said, he has an extremely tall order in front of him at Bellator 271.

Aaron Pico was the most hyped prospect MMA has ever seen. Olympic level wrestling with sensational boxing and a ton of power, Pico was instantly signed by Bellator before fighting a single amateur fight. Pico crashed to earth when he was stopped quickly in his debut.

It’s been an up and down story so far for Pico, but he’s finally reaching his potential at the young age of 25. Since making the move to Jackson-Wink, Pico has gone 4-0 with four stoppages in his last four Bellator appearances. He’s getting closer and closer to title contention.

Bellator 271 Prediction

On paper, this is not a tough matchup to predict and it’s really tough when you start to look at both of these fighters. Justin Gonzales is incredibly gritty and he has really good kickboxing with solid grappling. He will be comfortable wherever the fight goes at Bellator 271.

The same can be said for Aaron Pico. Pico has really turned the corner since making the move to Jackson-Wink and he continuously gets better and better. Early in his career, he got in trouble when he would try to brawl with opponents.

Now, he’s much more measured and he will take the fight to wherever he has the advantage. If he’s not doing well in standup, he can take it down. If he’s doing well on the feet, he can keep it standing. Pico will dictate this matchup at Bellator 271.

Most are prediction another Pico finish, but it’s hard for me to pick a guy to get stopped when he’s never lost. I think Gonzales is game and I think he will have success in this fight. However, he won’t have enough success to get over the mountain that is Aaron Pico.

Prediction: Aaron Pico by Unanimous Decision

Bellator 271 Preview: Cris Cyborg – Sinead Kavanagh

Tonight in the main event of Bellator 271, the women’s featherweight title is on the line. One of the best to ever do it, Cris Cyborg (24-2), is back to defend her featherweight crown. Standing across the cage from her will be Ireland’s Sinead Kavanagh (7-4).

Kavanagh got off to a really good start in her MMA career. She won her first three fights which earned her a shot with Bellator. She won her debut to start out 4-0, but since then, it’s been a mixed bag in terms of results.

Kavanagh lost two in a row before getting a first round knockout win and then dropping two fights in a row again. However, since that last losing streak, Kavanagh bounced back well winning two straight. Her last win came in October of 2020 in the form of a decision over Katharina Lehner.

There might not be a more fitting name in all of MMA than Cyborg for Cris Justino. Cyborg has been nothing short of dominant since starting in MMA. After losing her debut, she’s gone 24-1 with her lone loss being to the GOAT, Amanda Nunes.

She’s been a UFC champion, Strikeforce champion, and now Bellator champion. Since jumping to Bellator, she’s 3-0 with three knockout wins. She’s a staggering -1600 betting favorite for tonight’s main event.

Bellator 271 Prediction

Let’s be honest, it’s going to be a very steep mountain to climb for Sinead Kavanagh tonight at Bellator 271. She does have good boxing and we’ve seen her put her opponents away in the past with her hands. However, Cyborg is just another animal and she has the ability to dictate where the fight takes place.

There’s a huge difference in terms of the power. Cyborg has the advantage on the feet, but even if Kavanagh landed something big to get the attention of Cyborg, Cyborg can just take the fight to the ground with her incredible grappling.

Kayla Harrison is going to be cageside for Bellator 271 and I think Cris Cyborg is going to send a message to the hottest free agent in MMA. I expect a very dominant yet methodical performance from Cyborg. Expecting a masterclass in the first round before a brutal stoppage in the second.

Prediction: Cris Cyborg by TKO – Round 2

Kayla Harrison to be cageside for Bellator 271 headlined by Cris Cyborg

MMA, PFL

Tonight in the headliner of Bellator 271, one of the greatest female fighters of all time will be defending her title. Featherweight champion Cris Cyborg (24-2) will be defending her title against Ireland’s Sinead Kavanagh (7-4).

Like with virtually any Cris Cyborg fight, the champion is a massive favorite to retain her title at Bellator 271. While most would be focused on the action tonight, there is one storyline outside the cage that is getting more and more attention.

Sitting cageside for tonight’s event will be two-time PFL champion and two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Kayla Harrison (12-0). A couple of weeks ago, Harrison stopped Taylor Guardado in the second round to capture her second PFL title.

That fight was the final one on the contract for Harrison and she is now the most highly saught after free agent in MMA. Bellator is already very interested in bringing Harrison in and Scott Coker said this week that they are planning on having some dialogue with her.

Harrison to Bellator?

It’s going to be very interesting to see the path that Harrison takes with her free agency. Since becoming a free agent, she’s appeared at UFC 268 in New York and now she’s going to be cageside scouting Cris Cyborg at Bellator 271.

Harrison is making the rounds and I would expect that her free agency will end before too long. Make no mistake about it, PFL is going to try everything to bring Harrison back. They even imported former Bellator champion Julia Budd to try and provide more challenges in that arena.

However, PFL is a been there done that for Kayla Harrison at this point. Yes, they’ve been extremely good to her and helped make her a star, however, there’s nothing left for her to prove. Bellator on the other hand provides big opportunities.

There’s good competition in Bellator and the Cris Cyborg fight is something that Harrison wants. Harrison was vocal about being frustrated when PFL didn’t sign her. Now, Harrison has the chance to get that fight if she jumps to Bellator.

Of course, you can never rule out the UFC, but given her relationship with Amanda Nunes, I don’t think the UFC is as appealing right now. If I had to handicap her free agency, I would say that Bellator is the favorite right now.

Harrison looks very interested in jumping ship to fight Cyborg. If she fights Cyborg and wins, she will immediately jump towards the top of the pound for pound rankings. In speaking about a potential fight with Cyborg, Harrison has no doubts she would win.

“I think I would dominate,” Harrison said this week.

Bellator books Aaron Pico – Justin Gonzalez

Bellator has finalized a big time matchup featuring two of their best featherweight prospects. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto was the first to report yesterday that the promotion had finalized a matchup between Aaron Pico (8-3) and Justin Gonzalez (12-0).

The matchup will take place at Bellator 271 on November 12th. While many will of course focus on Aaron Pico for this matchup, there needs to be a lot of attention on “The J-Train” Justin Gonzalez.

Gonzalez will be making his second appearance with Bellator since signing with the promotion earlier this year. After starting out his career a perfect 9-0, Gonzalez got a shot on Dana White’s Contender Series back in 2019.

Gonzalez was able to win by decision, but that wasn’t enough to get a contract with the UFC. From there, Gonzalez went to LFA where he defeated the previously unbeaten Jake Childers. That win was enough for Bellator to come calling.

He made his debut back in June when he took on Ty-wan Claxton. It was a close fight, but Gonzalez was able to pick up the split decision win at Bellator 260. Now, he’s getting a high profile fight against the dangerous Aaron Pico.

Bellator title run for Pico?

There weren’t many prospects that have ever started MMA with the level of hype Aaron Pico had. Maybe Brock Lesnar but that’s not entirely fair considering Lesnar’s status with the WWE prior to jumping into MMA.

Pico was looked at as a prodigy and Bellator signed him before he even turned 18 years old. He made his professional debut in 2017 and proceeded to lose in 24 seconds. From there, he won four straight before getting knocked out in back-to-back fights.

After those losses, Pico switched things up and went to Jackson-Wink for his training. Since making that transition, Pico has now won four straight fights again. With this current streak, not a single fight has gone the distance.

Pico is getting closer and closer to a shot at Bellator gold. This is going to be a very tough matchup for him and given the undefeated status of Gonzalez, the winner might only be a win or two away from a title shot. This is definitely one to watch at Bellator 271.