Bellator will wrap up a doubleheader of events this weekend with a strong lineup on Saturday night. In the main event of Bellator 279, Cris Cyborg will look to continue her dominance at featherweight when facing Arlene Blencowe for the second time.
But before then, Bellator will kick off their bantamweight grand prix with two bouts. Also, the return of former champ Ilima-Lei Macfarlane will start the main card.
All of the action is scheduled to take place at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. Here’s a preview of the card.
Preliminary Card (8:30PM EDT / 2:30PM HST) (Youtube)
Bout 1: Sumiko Inaba (3-0) vs. Whittany Pyles (3-4) (Flyweight)
Undefeated prospect Sumiko Inaba will return on Saturday night to face Whittany Pyles.
All three of Inaba’s pro wins thus far have taken place in Bellator. She scored her third victory in October 2021, scoring a second round submission win over Randi Field.
Pyles has a negative record of three wins and four losses but is on a two-fight winning streak currently. She scored a win just last month, defeating Lisa Mauldin on an LFA card.
Bout 2: Ryan Dela Cruz (12-8) vs. Jordan Winski (11-3) (Lightweight)
Ryan Dela Cruz and Jordan Winski have been matched for the next bout.
Dela Cruz lost his last fight against veteran Matt Bessette, who submitted him in a CES title bout. His last Bellator win was in 2018 when he beat Spencer Higa.
Winski lost his Bellator debut last year in a unanimous decision loss to Brian Moore.
Bout 3: Janay Harding (6-5) vs. Dayana Silva (9-7) (Featherweight)
Bellator featherweight vets Janay Harding and Dayana Silva will return on the prelims.
Harding has fought for Bellator six times in the past. She was on the receiving end of a triangle choke from Leah McCourt in her last appearance, losing in May 2021.
Bout 4: Randi Field (2-1) vs. Maraya Miller (1-1) (Catchweight 120 lbs)
Meeting at a catchweight of 120 pounds, Randi Field and Maraya Miller will compete.
Field lost her Bellator debut last year against Sumiko Inaba. Before then, she had two wins on the regional scene in Canada.
Miller fought twice in Combate Global last year, earning a win and a loss respectively.
Bout 5: Keoni Diggs (9-1) vs. Bobby King (11-4) (Lightweight)
Fighting to come back from his sole pro loss, Keoni Diggs will meet Bobby King at lightweight.
Diggs took his first loss last year against the experienced name Daniel Weichel, who beat him via split decision. Diggs had previously scored nine pro wins, including two in Bellator.
Bout 6: Yancy Medeiros (15-8) vs. Emmanuel Sanchez (20-7) (Lightweight)
Former UFC fighter Yancy Medeiros will make his Bellator debut on Friday’s prelims against former title challenger Emmanuel Sanchez.
Medeiros had a 15-fight UFC run from 2013 to 2021. He departed the promotion after suffering a four-fight losing streak from 2018 to 2021.
Bout 7: Goiti Yamauchi (26-5) vs. Levan Chokheli (10-1) (Welterweight)
Bellator veteran Goiti Yamauchi will meet Levan Chokheli in the next matchup.
Yamauchi put a sudden end to the undefeated run of Chris Gonzalez last year, finishing him in the fourth minute of a bout. He has the chance to hurt another prospect on Saturday night with a win against Chokheli.
Chokheli took his first Bellator win in December 2021, defeating Vinicius de Jesus via unanimous decision. That bout came six months after he lost his first fight for the promotion, suffering a decision defeat against Kyle Crutchmer.
Bout 8: Kai Kamaka III (9-4-1) vs. Justin Gonzales (12-1) (Featherweight)
Former UFC fighter Kai Kamaka III and Justin Gonzales will fight in the next preliminary bout.
Kamaka III won his Bellator debut in December 2021 with a unanimous decision over John de Jesus. This came after a UFC run that resulted in one win, two losses and one draw.
Bout 9: Lance Gibson Jr. (5-0) vs. Nainoa Dung (4-2) (Lightweight)
Undefeated Lance Gibson Jr. will return on Saturday night to face Nainoa Dung.
Three of Gibson Jr.’s five pro wins have come in the Bellator cage. His last performance was in October 2021, when he stopped Raymond Pina with strikes.
Dung has spent most of his pro career in Bellator. He snapped a two-fight losing streak in his last fight, defeating Izzy William last year.
Main Card (10:30PM EDT / 4:30PM HST) (Showtime)
Bout 10: Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (11-1) vs. Justine Kish (7-5) (Flyweight)
Ilima-Lei Macfarlane will make her return to action in front of her home state of Hawaii when facing Justine Kish on Friday night.
Macfarlane was the Bellator Flyweight Champion from 2017 to 2020, defending the title four times during those years. However, she later took her first loss and dropped the title in late 2020 when she lost a unanimous decision to Juliana Velasquez. More than a year later, Macfarlane is back in the cage with the goal of picking up a win.
Kish is a former UFC fighter on a three-bout losing streak currently. She was unsuccessful in her Bellator debut in February, losing to DeAnna Bennett.
Bout 11: Kyoji Horiguchi (29-4) vs. Patchy Mix (15-1) (Bellator Bantamweight Grand Prix Quarter-Final)
The Bellator Bantamweight Grand Prix will kick off during Saturday’s main card. In the first of two quarter-final bouts set for the evening, former champion Kyoji Horiguchi will face Patchy Mix.
Horiguchi became the Bellator Bantamweight Champion in 2019 with a win over Darrion Caldwell. His reign didn’t last long, as he vacated the belt later that year due to injury.
After a stint in RIZIN, Horiguchi returned to Bellator late last year to challenge current champ Sergio Pettis. His battle against Pettis came to a sudden conclusion in the fourth round, as a spinning backfist knocked him out. Four months removed from that result, Horiguchi is beginning his quest toward another title shot in this bracket.
Mix challenged for the bantamweight belt in 2020 but came up short against Juan Archuleta. He has since proven that he is still a dominant grappler, submitting Albert Morales and James Gallagher last year.
Bout 12: Juan Archuleta (25-3) vs. Raufeon Stots (17-1) (Bellator Bantamweight Grand Prix Quarter-Final)
The second grand prix bout of the evening will see former champ Juan Archuleta and Raufeon Stots collide. The winner of this bout will actually be crowned an interim bantamweight champ, and the title will be carried to the end of the tournament. By the end of the bracket, the interim titleholder will meet current champ Sergio Pettis to unify their belts.
Archuleta earned the vacant title in 2020 with a decision victory over Patchy Mix. But a year later, he dropped the belt to current champ Pettis in a unanimous decision result. Saturday will mark his first appearance since then.
Stots has been unstoppable since joining Bellator in late 2019. He has earned five wins during his time with the promotion, with the challenges only growing stronger. His last fight was against Magomed Magomeov, whom he beat via unanimous decision in August 2021. Earlier victories came against names like Josh Hill and Cass Bell.
Bout 13: Cris Cyborg (25-2) vs. Arlene Blencowe (15-8) (Bellator Featherweight Championship)
Bellator Featherweight Champion Cris Cyborg will look to continue her dominant run as champion on Saturday night when she faces Arlene Blencowe for the second time.
Cyborg has dominated since joining Bellator in early 2020. She first gained the belt with a victory against Julia Budd. Since then she had defended the belt three times, all via stoppage. Her last win was in November 2021, when she stopped Sinead Kavanagh in just 92 seconds.
Cyborg previously met Blencowe in October 2020, with that fight resulting in a second-round rear naked choke submission result.
Blencowe has scored two victories since then, defeating Dayana Silva and Pam Sorenson in 2021. A win for Blencowe on Saturday night would be a massive upset. If she can’t pull off the unexpected, the reign of Cyborg will continue in Bellator.