The following story contains details of what happened at Bellator 278. You can watch the full event again on BBC iPlayer (UK only) here later on Sunday and highlights on BBC Three from 9pm on Sunday.
Bellator Women’s Featherweight Champion Cris Cyborg continued her dominant reign with a unanimous decision victory over Australian challenger Arlene Blencowe at Bellator 279 in Hawaii.
The bout was the second title match contested between the pair, with Cyborg winning the first meeting in October 2020 via second round submission.
The rematch saw the two fighters go toe-to-toe in a hard-fought battle as the 36-year-old Cyborg was forced to fight to the scorecards for the first time in her Bellator reign.
Cyborg floored Blencowe, 39, at the Neal S Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu with a big right hand midway through the first round and appeared to be on his way to a quick finish. But an illegal knee to the head from her punished opponent forced referee Jason Herzog to stop the action and penalize the champion with a point deduction.
Despite that early setback, Cyborg went on to dominate the fight as she outscored the durable Blencowe 141-67 over the five rounds of the championship to record the fourth straight defense of her title by scores of 49-45 on all three scorecards.
Following her win, Cyborg said she was ready for the biggest challenges in the sport, naming three possible matchups she’d like to face next, including reigning UFC featherweight champion Amanda Nunes and two-time Olympic champion. judo and PFL. lightweight champion Kayla Harrison.
“I’m just looking for the biggest fights,” he said.
“I don’t care if it’s Cat Zingano, Amanda Nunes or Kayla Harrison. I don’t know. I just want big fights for my fans.”
Stots captures interim bantamweight title
In the co-main event, Raufeon ‘Supa’ Stots captured the interim bantamweight title and advanced to the semifinals of the $m Bellator bantamweight grand prix with a shock third-round finish of former champion Juan Archuleta.
After two competitive rounds, the 33-year-old Stots broke through in the opening seconds of the third round when he connected with a head kick that dropped Archuleta to the canvas.
Stots then followed his man to the ground and connected with a salvo of hard elbows to force referee Mike Beltran to intervene with just 16 seconds left in the round.
Stots will now take the interim title to the semi-finals of the tournament, where he will face the winner of the quarter-final between Brazilian Leandro Higo and American Danny Sabatello.
Mix eliminates former champion Horiguchi
In the other bantamweight grand prix bout of the night, Patchy Mix earned the biggest win of his career with a unanimous decision win over former two-promotion champion Kyoji Horiguchi.
Japan’s Horiguchi, 31, was looking to find his way back to the title after a shock knockout loss to reigning champion Sergio Pettis last December.
But the 28-year-old Mix came to Hawaii in top form and outboxed the former Bellator and Rizin bantamweight champion over five rounds to go 48-47 on all three scorecards and improve his record to 16 wins, one loss.
Mix will advance to the semi-finals of the tournament, where he will face the winner of the upcoming quarter-final bout between Russia’s Magomed Magomedov and Peru’s Enrique Barzola.
Kish outpoints former champion
The biggest crowd reception of the night was reserved for the return of Ilima-Lei Macfarlane from Hawaii, but the former Bellator flyweight champion came in second behind former American UFC contender Justine Kish.
Competing in the Bellator cage for the first time since losing her title to Juliana Velasquez in December 2020, the 32-year-old Macfarlane was outclassed by Kish, who outboxed her opponent on the feet and did well to avoid serious trouble when the action went to the canvas.
The judges scored the fight 30-27, 29-28, 29-28 for the 34-year-old Kish, who snapped a three-fight losing streak to claim his first win inside the Bellator cage in his second appearance for the promotion.
Medeiros makes a crowd-pleasing debut
In the opening bout of the night’s main card, former UFC featherweight Yancy Medeiros made his Bellator debut in style with a thrilling unanimous decision win over long-time contender Emmanuel Sanchez.
In his first home fight in Hawaii in 13 years, Medeiros earned scores of 29-28, 30-27, 30-27 from the judges after a back-and-forth battle with Sanchez that had the crowd on its feet throughout. .
Medeiros’ win also snapped his four-fight losing streak by improving his career high to 16 wins, eight losses.