On Friday night at Bellator 255, it was announced that Cris Cyborg will defend her women’s 145-lb. strap against Leslie Smith at Bellator 259 on May 21. This bout will run back their 2016 matchup where Cyborg utterly brutalized “The Peacemaker” at UFC 198.
Cris Cyborg Will Be Bellator’s 145-lb. Champion Forever
This fight announcement is wildly underwhelming and one that brings to light a major problem Bellator is facing.
Bellator has long been recognized as U.S.’s second best MMA promotion behind the UFC. This is, in part, due to its roster: one that has been criticized as much less skilled than its UFC counterpart. This issue is blatantly obvious in that of the women’s featherweight division.
Cyborg Is in a League Of Her Own
On January 25, 2020, Cris Cyborg made her debut to Bellator in a women’s featherweight title contest against then-champion Julia Budd. At the time, Budd enjoyed an undefeated record inside the Bellator cage at a perfect 7-0 and had defended her 145-lb. title three times. Cyborg finished Budd with a flurry of strikes at the end of the fourth round to become the featherweight champion.
A Look at the Current Picture
As of March 2021, Bellator released the rankings for all of the weight classes. Currently, the women’s featherweight division is ranked as such:
(C) Cris Cyborg
- Julia Budd
- Arlene Blencowe
- Cat Zingano
- Leslie Smith
- Sinead Kavanagh
- Janay Harding
- Leah McCourt
- Amanda Bell
- Olga Rubin
- Jessy Miele
Of this top-ten picture, Cyborg has finished Julia Budd, Arlene Blencowe, and Leslie Smith. Julia Budd, whom Cyborg handily defeated, has beaten Arlene Blencowe (twice), Olga Rubin, and Jessy Miele. Of the five women not mentioned, they have a combined record of 35-20 with 25 finishes. Cyborg is 23-2-1 with 19 finishes.
This obvious talent discrepancy makes the women’s featherweight division uninteresting to watch and hard to invest in. As far as I’m concerned, Cris Cyborg will be the champion until she is 90 (or retirement, whichever comes first) and will finish her career 50-2-1 with 46 finishes.
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