Bellator 249 results, highlights: Cris Cyborg retains title in dominating fashion with first career submission

Throughout a legendary career spanning 15 years as a women’s MMA pioneer, Cris Cyborg had yet to record a submission victory as a professional entering Thursday’s Bellator 249 card. It took less than two rounds for that factoid to need updating as Cyborg continued to evolve her game deep into her career. 

Cyborg (23-2, 1 NC) made the first defense of her Bellator MMA women’s featherweight title with a dominant second-round submission win over top contender Arlene Blencowe (13-8) inside the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. 

A former Strikeforce and UFC champion, the 35-year-old Cyborg showcased not just an increasingly patient striking attack but an ever-growing ground game that included two takedowns and a submission finish via rear-naked choke. 

“I was really working hard because I wanted my first submission in MMA. I never did that before,” Cyborg said. “This is a dream come true. I’m very happy and excited for the next one.” 

Blencowe, a 37-year-old native of Australia, had only lost in the previous five years under the Bellator banner to the same fighter twice by close decision in former champion Julia Budd. But that’s the same fighter Cyborg demolished in January to capture her 145-pound crown and she made even quicker work of Blencowe by using inside leg kicks and pressure to force her back to the cage at will. 

Can’t get enough boxing and MMA? Get the latest in the world of combat sports from two of the best in the business. Subscribe to Morning Kombat with Luke Thomas and Brian Campbell for the best analysis and in-depth news.

After a lengthy standing clinch in the opening round, Cyborg swept Blencowe to secure the takedown and quickly moved to full mount before raining down clean punches. Although Blencowe was able to return to her feet shortly before the bell, the offensive surge from the champion only continued in Round 2.

Cyborg ducked a left hook and came forward to draw blood from Blencowe’s nose with a flurry of power shots. A takedown followed before Cyborg began to score with punches from full mount, which led Blencowe to give up her back and tapped out at 2:36 of the round.

“This is amazing. I can hear my corner [in the empty arena] and it’s like a video game,” Cyborg said. “I trained really hard. I always have to improve my game and get better and better.” 

The next challenger to Cyborg’s title could come from the winner of a proposed (but not signed) bout between Budd and former UFC bantamweight title challenger Cat Zingano. When asked whom she preferred to fight next, Cyborg stuck to her guns by continuing to refuse to call opponents out.

“Now the division has so many girls and I’m very happy here in Bellator,” Cyborg said. “[Bellator MMA president] Scott Coker is the man who will tell me who is next and I just have to be ready.” 

CBS Sports was with you throughout the evening for the latest updates, highlights