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Bellator 249: Cyborg vs Blencowe preview

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A featherweight championship, a Pitbull brother, and a handful of dynamic and promising prospects round out a great event for this week.

Bellator 238 Julia Budd v Cris Cyborg Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Bellator has a new home and a more consistent schedule, as they bring quality matchups while attempting to make up for lost time.

What we have this week is another sneaky good card, which is unfortunate because it’s mostly gone under the radar. While that’s been a bit of a running theme for Bellator throughout 2020, it feels a bit odd to see a quality product not get more attention or exposure as it deserves. But we play the cards we’re dealt and can’t complain about the quality, because this card has a lot of it.

Cris Cyborg (22-2) remains one of the absolute best fighters in history, and as Bellator champ has remained a force after leaving the UFC. Her Bellator debut was a war against Julia Budd, and now she’s up against a very strong opponent that also hits hard. Arelene Blencowe (13-7) doesn’t have the physicality or wrestling chops that Budd has, but she can pack a punch and take one in the process. Three straight wins with two finishes in a smaller division have put her in the top spot for the title, and she’s working to prove that she not only belongs in the upper crust at featherweight, but that she can hang with an all-time great.

The co-main event sees former LFA talent Jaleel Willis (13-2) making his Bellator debut by drawing possibly the shortest straw possible in the company as he faces Patricky Pitbull (23-9). Willis is a fun prospect that’s got some wild power and excellent finishing instincts. Problem is he’s facing Patricky. While he fell short in the RIZIN GP, he managed to deliver his trademark savagery against Wanderlei Silva protégé Luiz Gustavo. Tall order for the newcomer, but his size and strength could give him an edge here.

Another LFA alum is set to return as Leandro Higo (19-5) returns after his stellar submission win over wrestling standout Shawn Bunch to face rising talent Ricky Bandejas (13-4). You may remember Bandejas as the plucky upstart that hit the Sweet Chin Music to halt the momentum of SBG Ireland’s James Gallagher. Higo’s got a busy boxing pace to go with his BJJ top control and strong positioning, while Bandejas has pinpoint accuracy once he finds his rhythm and wily scrambles.

Tristar’s Mandel Nallo (7-1) made an immediate impact upon arriving in Bellator with insane back to back finishes over Carrington Banks and Alec Williams. That momentum had the brakes slammed on after his encounter with Killys Mota. Now he’s up against Bellator mainstay Saad Awad (23-13), who has lost four straight but remains a threat with the power in his hands.

Elevation’s Andrew Kapel (15-7) has been mostly a finishing machine in his wins, and he’ll have his hands full with Joseph Creer, who is currently 1-1 in Bellator. Hungry prospect Mike Kimbel (3-2) meets Da’Mon Blackshear (7-3), and BJJ ace Aviv Gozali (4-0) meets Logan Neal.

You can check out the weigh-ins right here:

Weigh-in results:

Cris Cyborg (145) vs. Arlene Blencowe (144.5) - Featherweight championship fight

Patricky “Pitbull” (155.5) vs. Jaleel Willis (159*) - Lightweight fight

Ricky Bandejas (136) vs. Leandro Higo (139*) - Bantamweight fight

Saad Awad (155.5) vs. Mandel Nallo (155.9) - Lightweight

Steve Mowry (250.5) vs. Shawn Teed (255.4) - Heavyweight

Andrew Kapel (185.8) vs. Joseph Creer (183.3) - Middleweight

Kyle Crutchmer (170.2) vs. Kemran Lachinov (170.2) - Welterweight

Christian Edwards (204.5) vs. Hamza Salim (204.2) - Light heavyweight

Mike Kimbel (139.2) vs. Da’mon Blackshear (140) - 140lb Catchweight

Aviv Gozali (168.8) vs. Logan Neal (169.3) - Welterweight

Albert Gonzales (169.5) vs. Kastroit Xhema (169.7) - Welterweight

*Higo and Willis both missed weight

Bellator 249 starts this Thursday at 7:15pm EST with prelims streaming live on Bellator’s YouTube channel and Main card will be on CBS Sports Network starting at 10:00pm EST.