Bellator 259 went down on Friday night and delivered some interesting fights and shock results. We will review the main highlights from the event.
Bellator 259 Prelims
The first shock came when Welshman, Brett Johns suffered a loss in his promotional debut. Stepping in on late notice, Danny Sabatello used his wrestling to dominate ‘The Pikey’, easing to a 30-27 victory. Sabatello progressed to 11-1 and can be a real contender within the bantamweight division.
Next came the European poster girl, Leah McCourt. The Northern Irish featherweight got the victory in the second round, but it was certainly a struggle. The first round was close, however, McCourt’s opponent, Janay Harding likely took it. The second round was looking terrible for McCourt. Harding was able to sting McCourt badly on the break from the grappling exchanges. A desperation shot from McCourt lead to some heavy ground and pound from Harding, coming very close to a finish. A brutal upkick from McCourt saw Harding fall into her guard, where she was able to lock up a triangle. A great comeback for the European poster girl.
Elsewhere on the prelims, we saw Aviv Gozali secure his sixth straight submission win, this time via heel hook. Sumiko Inaba progressed to 2-0 within the Bellator cage with a TKO finish. Saad Awad was able to gain his first win since 2018 and was able to snap a five-fight skid without a victory.
Bellator 259 Main Card
Valerie Loureda was bumped up to the main card following a last-minute cancellation, however, it didn’t go her way. The game Hannah Guy was able to overcome a first-round knockdown to rally and ultimately defeat Loureda. Loureda survived a number of submission attempts to see the final bell. She showed some decent wrestling and Jiu Jitsu defence throughout the bout. Although her spinning attacks looked impressive, Guy was able to time the American Top Team prospect and take her down with ease. Scott Cocker does strongly believe that Loureda will be back, however.
Austin Vanderford was able to dominate Fabian Edwards and remain undefeated. Progressing to 11-0, the wrestling of the American was too much for Edwards, despite getting badly cut open. Having progressed to 8-0, Edwards fell to 0-2 in his most recent two bouts. Vanderford could very much see himself competing for the belt in his next fight. At 5-0 in Bellator and with his strong wrestling pedigree, Vanderford against the champion, Gegard Mousasi could be interesting.
In the Bellator 259 co-main event, former bantamweight champion, Darrion Caldwell returned to action, attempting to bounce back from his Grand Prix semi-final loss to AJ McKee. Unfortunately for Caldwell, it wouldn’t be at Bellator 259 that he would get his W. Stepping in against former foe, Leandro Higo, Caldwell suffered a split-decision defeat. Back at Bellator 195, Caldwell submitted Higo in the first round to defend his belt. A close fight with a number of exchanges on both the feet and a few interesting scrambles lead to the Brazillian getting his hand raised. He did, however, miss weight for the second time in as many fights. A potential move back to featherweight could be on the cards.
Bellator 259 Main Event
Cris Cyborg took on Leslie Smith in a rematch. The differences this time… It was in Bellator, at 145lbs, was scheduled for five rounds, and was for the featherweight strap. The MMASucka team were right on this one, with all nine members picking Cyborg to win via TKO.
Cyborg never looked troubled at the hands of Smith, dominating her way to a decision victory. It wasn’t until the dying moments that Smith’s body gave up on her following another heavy shot at the hands of Cyborg. Following a knockdown and several unanswered shots, Cyborg recorded her 19th knockout victory with just nine seconds to go in the bout.
Her post-fight speech saw her call out Cat Zingano. ‘I’d like to see Cat Zingano fight me for the next match’. This could certainly happen, with Zingano being a big name and being 2-0 inside the Bellator cage. We’ll have to wait and see!