Bellator 249 was entertaining from top to bottom, and all but one fight did not go the distance. Before I dive deeper into this outstanding card, I would like to mention that it was unfortunate that the card lost its co-main event after the card had already begun, due to Patricky Pitbull dealing with a bout of labyrinthitis, a rare side effect of the common cold or flu. We won’t know right away how long his symptoms will last, but you have to think that if he is better before Nov. 12th, he will want to fight on the same card as his brother.
In the prelims, several fighters earned statement wins by stoppage. Aviv Gozali got the tap by way of kimura in the first round, and then called out Dillon Danis. This was Gozali’s fifth Bellator submission win, in as many fights, and each win has come by a different method. Christian Edwards, the Jon Jones protege, picked up his first career win by submission when he sunk in a rear naked choke in the second round of his bout. Edwards was very excited about his future and believes he has put the entire division on notice. In the last fight of the prelims, Andrew Kapel looked zoned in from the minute he made his walk to the cage all the way to when the fight was called off after two rounds. Kapel is now back in the win column after a submission loss to John Salter in August.
Steve Mowry was promoted to the main card following the co-main event cancellation, and he certainly made the most of it. Mowry said he was about to make his walk to the cage when he was informed that his fight would actually take place over an hour later and it would be televised on CBS Sports. Mowry made impressive work in the clinch against Shawn Teed, connecting with knees, which boomed in the empty arena, and powerful overhands. He methodically chose his strikes and got a first round stoppage from one of his hulking knees. Mowry said that the game plan for the night was still the grappling based approach that led to his first three Bellator victories, but the fact that he didn’t need to use his grappling en route to his first career knockout win shows how much he is improving.
In the co-main event, Leandro Higo looked as impressive as ever, taking down Ricky Bandejas at will before submitting him in the second round. After the fight, Higo expressed that he is ready for anyone in Bellator’s stacked bantamweight division, but the elephant in the room was that Higo had missed weight. This is the second time Higo missed weight in Bellator, the second being his debut in 2017. But when asked about the reason for this miss, he argued that the coronavirus pandemic made the weight-cut more difficult. Bellator President Scott Coker does not believe there is a problem that has to be dealt with, but thinks that Higo needs “to identify a weight that he is truly comfortable with.”
In the main event, Cris Cyborg made easy work of defending her featherweight belt against Arlene Blencowe. While rewatching, I estimated that Cyborg landed over 100 significant strikes during the seven-and-a-half minute fight. There was one insane 10-second stretch in the second round in which Cyborg landed over 20 strikes. Toward the middle of the second round, Cyborg sunk in the rear naked choke and got her first career win by submission.
When asked about what it was like to defend her belt without fans, Cyborg said, “Coming back is better than nothing. It’s very nice to have the opportunity to fight at this time.”
Considering the lack of damage Cyborg absorbed during this fight, it is quite possible that Cyborg fights again before the end of the year; however, whether this is against Cat Zingano in the cage, Katie Taylor in the ring or perhaps an opponent we haven’t even considered in a crossover with RIZIN, we will have to wait and see.
Later this week, I will be writing an additional article recounting my personal experience attending this event inside the Bellator bubble, so stay tuned.