Free agency looms for Kayla Harrison ahead of PFL Finals

MMA, PFL

Tomorrow night in the main event of PFL‘s tenth event of the 2021 season, we will see the finals for the women’s lightweight division. The massive favorite, Kayla Harrison (11-0), will look to remain perfect and pick up her third straight PFL championship.

Standing in her way is Taylor Guardado (3-1) who will be looking to pick up the massive upset. Guardado lost her professional debut last year, but a perfect PFL season at 3-0 has earned her a spot in the finals against the Olympic Gold Medalist and two-time PFL champion.

While Guardado is a good opponent, there’s more focus on what comes after the fight for Kayla Harrison. No disrespect to Guardado, but I can’t see any scenario where Harrison walks out of the cage tomorrow night without capturing her third PFL championship.

That is the general consensus in the MMA community which is why the focus of this week is about what comes next. Once the PFL finals are over tomorrow night, Kayla Harrison is officially a free agent and she’s the best female free agent MMA has ever seen.

Will Harrison stay with PFL?

Harrison has competed at 155 pounds for the entirety of her career with PFL. However, last year, she cut down to 145 pounds to show the world that she’s very capable of making the featherweight limit which opens the doors for a couple of superfights.

PFL is obviously wanting to retain her and they’re trying to make the promotion even more attractive from a competition standpoint. They recently signed Julia Budd (15-3) and Budd will be making her debut tomorrow night for the promotion. Budd was a longstanding champion in Bellator.

Speaking of Bellator, they will be calling Harrison with the dream of Harrison fighting one of the greatest of all time in Cris Cyborg (24-2). Harrison has always wanted to fight Cyborg and was frustrated when PFL didn’t sign her following her release from the UFC.

And speaking of the UFC, that is where the biggest fight of all is. The fight I’m referring to would pair Harrison against her teammate and the greatest female fighter of all time, Amanda Nunes (21-4). Nunes is the two-division UFC champion who is widely considered to be the best ever.

Harrison wants the world to view her as the greatest of all time. She told the media this week that she’s going to be following some comments from UFC president Dana White who advised her to stay with PFL and continue beating up on less competition.

Harrison took the comments in stride as she knows the game. The PFL champion knows the game and she knows how to play it. Where she ends up signing will be one of the biggest MMA storylines between tomorrow night and the end of 2021.

Bellator 259 Preview: Cris Cyborg – Leslie Smith 2

Tomorrow night in the main event of Bellator 259, the women’s featherweight title is up for grabs. The reigning champion and all time great Cris Cyborg (23-2, 1 NC) is back to defend her crown against Leslie Smith (12-8-1).

This Bellator title fight is actually a rematch from 2016. Leslie Smith was the first woman to welcome Cris Cyborg to the UFC. That night, Cyborg was able to stop Smith in just 81 seconds.

Cyborg went on to capture the UFC featherweight title and now she’s the Bellator featherweight champion. Cris Cyborg lost her professional MMA debut and since then, she’s been almost perfect.

In fact, most of the time, the Bellator champion has looked indestructible. The only woman to defeat Cyborg is Amanda Nunes who did it in devastating fashion. Nunes is widely considered to be the greatest of all time so there’s no shame in Cyborg losing that one.

Since making the move to Bellator, Cyborg has gone 2-0 with two stoppage victories. Her last win against Arlene Blencowe was her first career submission victory to go along with her 18 career knockouts.

Leslie Smith is going to look to pull off the massive upset at Bellator 259. Since joining the promotion in 2019, Smith has gone 2-1 with a loss to Blencowe. Overall, Smith is 4-1 in her last five fights leading up to tomorrow night.

Bellator 260 Prediction

Cyborg will walk into Bellator 259 as a staggering -1200 favorite and she should be. Again, the only woman to defeat her was the greatest of all time. Cyborg is considered by many to be the second greatest female fighter of all time.

She’s captured titles in Strikeforce, Invicta, the UFC, and Bellator. If I’m being completely transparent, I just don’t see how Leslie Smith can win tomorrow night. Of course, it’s a fight and technically anything can happen.

However, we’ve seen this fight before and I don’t think the rematch goes any different. Smith would have to either catch Cyborg with a perfect punch or survive and outwork the champion over five rounds. Unfortunately for Leslie Smith, I don’t see this fight making it past the first round.

Prediction: Cris Cyborg by TKO – Round 1

Bellator 259 headlined by Cris Cyborg – Leslie Smith 2

In cased you missed the Bellator 255 broadcast last Friday, we learned that the promotion has finalized a big time women’s matchup. The matchup will headline Bellator 259 on May 21st.

That matchup features the Bellator featherweight champion Cris Cyborg (23-2, 1 NC) taking on Leslie Smith (12-8-1). This is the second time that these two ladies have squared off against each other.

There was a ton of hype around their first meeting because it was the UFC debut of Cyborg. Leslie Smith was tasked with welcoming Cyborg to the world’s premier MMA organization.

Smith had traditionally competed at 135 pounds, but she moved up to take on the challenge of Cyborg. Ultimately, Cyborg was able to get the TKO victory over Leslie Smith in the first round.

Since that loss to Cyborg back in 2016, Leslie Smith has gone 4-1. She also made the move to Bellator during this stretch of her career. This 4-1 stretch is the best five fight stretch that she’s had since making her professional debut.

Bellator’s Best

The 38 year old Smith might be on the best stretch of her career, but she has a giant mountain in front of her at Bellator 259. That mountain is one of the greatest women’s mixed martial artists of all time.

Cris Cyborg made her professional debut back in 2005. That night, she was submitted in the first round by knee bar. Since that night, Cyborg has gone 23-1, 1 NC in 25 fights.

The only woman that’s made Cyborg look human is Amanda Nunes. Nunes fought Cyborg back in 2018 and knocked her out in under a minute. Granted, while Cyborg is one of the best, Amanda Nunes is by far the greatest to ever do it.

After that loss to Nunes, Cyborg fought once more in the UFC before moving to Bellator. She made her debut with the promotion and took on long reigning featherweight champion, Julia Budd.

Cyborg was able to score the fourth round TKO. She made her first title defense back in October and submitted dangerous challenger Arlene Blencowe in the second round. There is no questioning the fact that Cyborg is the best that Bellator has to offer and she will look to continue her dominance in May.

Bellator’s Fighter of the Year in 2020

It’s been a big year for Bellator MMA. Despite the craziness in the world, the promotion has made waves with big signings, a historic event in France, and a ground breaking new deal with CBS Sports Network.

All of this in addition to putting on some fantastic fights. This year, Bellator has seen a number of new champions crowned. One of the new champions that sticks out is the new light heavyweight champion, Vadim Nemkov (12-2).

Nemkov has looked like a destroyer since making his promotional debut in 2017. Nobody has been able to stop him since he’s joined the promotion and he had one fight in 2020 that took place at Bellator 244.

That night, Nemkov challenged Ryan Bader for the light heavyweight champion. Bader was the two-division world champion, but Nemkov ran him over. Nemkov stopped Bader in the second round to capture the light heavyweight title.

Another new champion that was crowned was Juan Archuleta (25-2). Archuleta got his start back in January when he defeated Henry Corrales. Then he got his shot against Patchy Mix at Bellator 246 for the bantamweight title.

After some early adversity, Archuleta went on to control the fight and win the vacant title. A very impressive 2-0 campaign from Archuleta which made him my runner up for Bellator Fighter of the Year.

Bellator Fighter of the Year

After going back and forth, I ultimately made the conclusion that the Bellator Fighter of the Year in 2020 was Cris Cyborg (23-2, 1 NC). Cyborg made her Bellator debut back in January after signing with the promotion in 2019.

In her first fight of the year, Cyborg took on the long-reigning Bellator champion, Julia Budd. Budd hadn’t lost a fight since 2012 and looked like she would be a tough challenge for Cyborg in her Bellator debut.

However, like many opponents before her, Budd had no answer for the power of Cyborg. Cyborg won the Bellator featherweight championship by stopping Budd in the fourth round of their title fight.

She then had her first title defense back in October against Arlene Blencowe. From the opening bell, Cyborg completely dominated the fight and ended up picking up her first career win by submission at Bellator 249.

After going through the roster, Cyborg deserved the distinction as Fighter of the Year. She made her debut by dethroning a long-reigning champion and she defended the title successfully. Those two things make her the Bellator Fighter of the Year in 2020.

Cris Cyborg overwhelms Arlene Blencowe at Bellator 249

Tonight, Bellator MMA returned with some solid action. In the main event of the evening Cris Cyborg (22-2, 1 NC) was looking to defend her featherweight crown against Arlene Blencowe (13-7). Cyborg entered the cage as a sizable favorite to successfully defend her Bellator crown.

When the fight got underway, it was very apparent that Blencowe wasn’t intimidated by the Bellator champion. Both fighters exchanged leg kicks early. Halfway through the first round, Cyborg forced Blencowe against the fence and took her down.

Cyborg was able to get to the mount position and land big shots. However, Blencowe was able to survive to see the second round. Cyborg opened the second round with a blistering pace that had Blencowe staggered. It appeared Blencowe was nearly out on her feet, then Cyborg took her down.

Once on the ground, Cyborg was once again able to work her way to the mount position. Blencowe did a decent job at defending the strikes, but in doing so, she gave up her back. Cyborg flattened Blencowe out and locked in the rear naked choke for her first career submission victory.

Bellator 249 Fallout

There is no questioning the fact that Cris Cyborg is the best female fighter that Bellator has on the roster. She’s one of the greatest of all time and if it wasn’t for someone named Amanda Nunes, she would likely be considered the greatest to ever do it.

Arlene Blencowe was just out of her league at Bellator 249. I will give her credit in the fact that she didn’t back down and she didn’t appear afraid when she stepped into the cage. However, none of that mattered in the end as she was just another Cyborg victim.

After this victory, you start to really wonder what’s next in Bellator for Cris Cyborg. She could always have the rematch with Julia Budd. However, a fight with Cat Zingano down the line is likely for the Bellator champion. I don’t see her losing her title anytime soon.

Bellator 249 Preview: Cyborg looks to continue her reign

Tomorrow night Bellator returns and the women’s featherweight division will be taking center stage. Featherweight queen Cris Cyborg (22-2, 1 NC) will be headlining the card making her first title defense of her Bellator featherweight crown.

Standing across from Cyborg will be Arlene Blencowe (13-7). Blencowe presenters herself as a worthy challenger to Cyborg’s Bellator crown coming into Bellator 249 after winning three consecutive fights. Two of those fights were finished by TKO.

If there is a Mount Rushmore for women’s MMA, Cris Cyborg would be on it. She’s been a champion in all the major promotions from Strikeforce to the UFC and now Bellator. After her UFC contract ended in 2019, Cyborg jumped ship to Bellator.

The promotion immediately threw her in against then featherweight champion, Julia Budd. It was a good fight, but Cyborg was able to pick up the fourth round TKO to claim the title back at Bellator 238. Cyborg will now look to defend her title for the first time.

Bellator 249 Prediction

When Cyborg fights, you pretty much know what you’re going to get. She’s made a career of overwhelming her opponents with her incredible pace and power. Her striking is very good, but it’s her power that just makes her opponents crumble.

Her technique is good, but opponents can get to her if they throw straight shots with good speed. However, nobody outside of Amanda Nunes has really been able to do that to Cyborg in her MMA career. One of the reasons she’s only lost once since 2005.

The Australian challenger is not going to be intimidated by Cyborg. Blencowe has some really good pop of her own, and she has a very well rounded game. The Bellator 249 challenger has never been finished in her MMA career.

I think this is flying under the radar and it could be a very good matchup. While so many people will flock to predict a Cyborg knockout at Bellator 249, Blencowe’s skills and toughness does give me pause. I think she can do some damage in this one.

However, when it’s all said and done, I think Cyborg is going to keep her Bellator crown. She’s just too good and too powerful. I’m going to say that Blencowe has her moments, but she will fall for the first time in her MMA career. Cyborg will get the finish in this one.

Prediction: Cris Cyborg by TKO – Round 3