Bellator Featherweight Champion Cris Cyborg will put her belt on the line for the first time on Thursday, facing Arlene Blencowe in the main event of Bellator 249. Here’s a preview of the card, which is set to happen at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, USA.
Preliminary Card (7:15PM EDT) (Youtube)
Bout 1: Albert Gonzales (1-2) vs. Kastriot Xhema (3-4) (Welterweight)
Before their four-fight main card, Bellator has seven fights scheduled for their preliminary card. The first of the series is between welterweights Albert Gonzales and Kastriot Xhema.
Gonzales’ record went into the negatives in September of 2019 after a loss to Tyson Miller. The fight for Gonzales ended in the second minute after he broke his leg. He will attempt to have a proper first win in Bellator on Thursday.
Xhema last competed in August of 2019, losing in the third round via armbar to Connor Dixon. Like Gonzales, a win for Xhema would even his pro record.
Bout 2: Aviv Gozali (4-0) vs. Logan Neal (1-0) (Welterweight)
Looking for his fifth win in Bellator, undefeated Aviv Gozali will fight Logan Neal on the prelims. Gozali has won his four previous fights from 2018 to 2019, finishing all of the fights within a round via submission.
Neal made his pro debut in November of 2019, stopping Paul Teague in the fifth minute via submission.
Bout 3: Da’Mon Blackshear (7-3) vs. Mike Kimbel (3-2) (Catchweight 140 lbs)
Da’Mon Blackshear will make his Bellator debut on Thursday when he fights Mike Kimbel. Blackshear has fought 10 times as a pro, competing in promotions like CES and CFFC. He last competed just under a year ago in October of 2019, stopping Kody Nordby in the second round via arm triangle choke.
Kimbel has spent his entire five-fight career as a pro in Bellator. His career started hot, picking up a stoppage over Geoffrey Then and a six-second knockout victory against Alex Potts. He now has a record of three wins and two losses. His last bout was in August of 2019, being stopped late in the first round by Chris Disonell.
Bout 4: Christian Edwards (3-0) vs. Hamza Salim (5-3) (Light Heavyweight)
After being successful in his rookie year of MMA, Christian Edwards will fight Hamza Salim on Thursday’s prelims. Edwards won all three of his pro fights in Bellator, finishing two of them in under a minute. He went the decision in his third win, defeating Marco Hutch.
Salim will aim to bounce back from his August fight which was a decision loss to Grant Neal. He previously had three-straight wins on the regional scene.
Bout 5: Kyle Crutchmer (6-0) vs. Kemran Lachinov (9-2) (Welterweight)
Finishing off the trio of welterweight fights on the card, undefeated Kyle Crutchmer will be paired with Kemran Lachinov. Crutchmer won four-straight on the regional scene before being picked up by Bellator in 2019. He has won his first two fights in Bellator, defeating both Robert Gidron and Scott Futrell.
He now has his biggest challenge yet, as he fights, Lachinov, who has won his last seven bouts, three of which came within Bellator. Lachinov comes off somewhat of a layoff, as his last fight was in June of 2019 over Billy Goff.
Bout 6: Joseph Creer (7-1-1) vs. Andrew Kapel (15-7) (Middleweight)
Joseph Creer and Andrew Kapel will compete on Bellator’s undercard on Thursday. Kapel competed recently, losing a one-sided bout to John Salter in August. The loss concluded a five-fight streak of wins on the regional scene.
Creer last competed in December, defeating Ty Gwerder on scorecards. The win was a bounce back from his first loss as a pro, which came against Austin Vanderford earlier in the year.
Bout 7: Shawn Teed (6-2-1) vs. Steve Mowry (7-0) (Heavyweight)
After a positive COVID-19 test took Steve Mowry out of his July bout against Rudy Schaffroth, he has been re-booked for a fight on Thursday against Shawn Teed. Undefeated as a pro, Mowry has stopped his first three opponents in Bellator via submission. His last fight dates back to October of 2019, where he stopped Gokhan Saricam with a kimura.
Teed, a former CFFC Heavyweight Champion, will make his Bellator debut on the card. Teed claimed the CFFC belt in November, stopping Ben Reiter in the third round with strikes. The win was his sixth as a pro.
Main Card (10:00PM EDT / CBS Sports Network)
Bout 8: Saad Awad (23-13) vs. Mandel Nallo (7-1) (Lightweight)
Veteran Saad Awad will attempt to break a four-fight skid on the main card when he fights Mandel Nallo. Awad’s streak of losses are from 2018 and 2019, dropping bouts to notable Bellator fighters like Benson Henderson and Paul Daley.
He now faces Nallo, who has won seven of his eight fights as a pro. He entered Bellator with two quick victories, defeating Alec Williams in 2017 and Carrington Banks in 2018.
He took his first loss in 2019, being stopped in the third round by Killys Mota at Bellator 231.
Bout 9: Ricky Bandejas (13-4) vs. Leandro Higo (19-5) (Bantamweight)
Bellator bantamweights Ricky Bandejas and Leandro Higo will clash on the main card of Thursday night. Bandejas had a two-fight streak of finish victories broken last July, dropping a decision to Sergio Pettis in the main event of Bellator 242.
Higo last competed over a year ago now, winning over Shawn Bunch at Bellator 228 via guillotine choke. The win ended a skid which included a failed title shot against Darrion Caldwell and a fight against Aaron Pico.
Bout 10: Patricky Pitbull (23-9) vs. Jaleel Willis (13-2) (Lightweight)
Patricky Pitbull will make his return to Bellator in the co-main event of the evening against Jaleel Willis. Pitbull, a Bellator veteran, was lent to Japanese MMA promotion RIZIN in late 2019 to participate in an eight-man lightweight tournament.
Pitbull won the first round in October of 2019, stopping former UFC fighter and MMA veteran Tatsuya Kawajiri in the second minute. He won the second round on New Year’s Eve against Luiz Gustavo, although he lost the finale later that night to Tofiq Musayev via decision.
He now fights Willis, who will be making his Bellator debut. Willis earned his fourth-straight win in August, defeating Vinicius de Jesus to become the LFA Welterweight Champion.
Bout 11: Cris Cyborg (22-2) vs. Arlene Blencowe (13-7) (Bellator Featherweight Championship)
Looking to build on her fourth stint as a champion in her career, Cris Cyborg will put her Bellator Featherweight Championship on the line against Arlene Blencowe.
Cyborg won the title in January, defeating Julia Budd in the fourth round to claim the belt. The fight was Cyborg’s first in Bellator after finishing up a seven-fight stint in the UFC.
Cyborg has been a champion throughout her career, having previously claimed the featherweight belt in Invicta FC, Strikeforce and the UFC. She took only her second loss as a pro in December of 2018, losing her UFC belt to Amanda Nunes in under a minute. She has won her two fights since then in dominating fashion.
Blencowe looks again to claim a Bellator belt after three wins in the promotion from 2018 to 2019. She last won in November of 2019 via decision over Leslie Smith.
Blencowe last fought for the belt in late 2017, losing a split decision to Julia Budd.