HOLLYWOOD, CA – JANUARY 23: Cris Cyborg answers questions from the media for her upcoming Bellator women’s featherweight world title fight against Julia Budd during media day at the Paramount Theatre on January 23, 2020 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
Cris Cyborg looks to make her third successful women’s featherweight title defense against Sinead Kavanagh in the Bellator 271 headliner.
One of the world’s premier MMA promotions is returning to the state of Florida for the first time in eight years with Bellator 271. Ireland’s Kavanagh makes her first appearance of the year against Cris “Cyborg” Justino — who’s yet to lose since singing to Bellator.
The former UFC women’s featherweight champion joined Bellator in Jan. 2020 and she’s been dominant upon arrival. Justino has tallied a trio of stoppage victories, most recently scoring a fifth-round TKO over Leslie Smith.
Kavanagh has amassed a .500 record through eight fights under Bellator’s banner. This upcoming bout will be her first crack at championship status. The 35-year-old faces her stiffest test to date, entering as a massive underdog.
Kavanagh is the first Irish woman to compete for a major MMA world title. She has spent her time training at Dublin’s Straight Blast Gym under the tutelage of John Kavanagh and Sergey Pikulskiy in preparation for this contest.
For Justino, taking part in world title fights is nothing new. The 36-year-old has divided her recent training sessions between Bodyshop Fitness Karate and her own gym in Huntington Beach, CA.
As far as physical measurements are concerned, Justino will hold a three-inch advantage in both height and arm reach.
Now, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty. Once inside the cage, don’t expect Kavanagh to fight scared or timid like some of Justino’s opponents in the past. Kavanagh is going to bring it at Bellator 271. She likes to strike and pressure her opposition.
When looking at film from her past outings with Elina Kallionidou and Janay Harding you’ll see a fighter who is aiming to finish the fight with her hands. She’s more than willing to eat shots in order to land them, which might be her downfall in this one.
Standing and banging with Justino is a recipe for disaster unless your name is Amanda Nunes. The Brazilian has proven that her power carries over into the later rounds as well. Moreover, Justino owns black belts in both BJJ and muay Thai, giving her a sizable edge on the ground over Kavanagh.
Another aspect to keep an eye on is the fact that Kavanagh has never ventured past the third round, something Justino has done in two of her previous three fights.
Kavanagh’s best chance to win will be catching Justino early in this fight, but her chances are slim. Even at her advanced age, Justino remains dominant. In actuality, her easiest path to victory at Bellator 271 is if she can get Kavanagh to the mat and submit her.
Prediction: Justino by stoppage.
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