Bellator’s packed weekend continues with Bellator 279, featuring another title fight at the top, a pair of bantamweight tournament fights, and some excellent action pairings. There’s a lot to like here and it makes for a dynamite night of fights.
At the top we’ve got a title rematch between Arlene Blencowe (15-8) vs featherweight queen Cris Cyborg (25-2). Blencowe did her best to hang tough in the first fight, dishing out some damage of her own. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. She’s going for another bite at the apple against an absolute tank of a woman, and it will at least be interesting to see if she brings anything different in her approach this time.
Former bantamweight champ Juan Archuleta (25-3) has had a fair amount of success alternating between 135 and 145 in his Bellator run, and will remain at bantamweight for the immediate forseeable future as he participates in the bantamweight Grand Prix. He was scheduled to meet champ Sergio Pettis in the opening round, but Pettis had to with draw due to injury and will be on the shelf for some time. So the opening round will remain a title fight as part of the tournament, except there’s an interim title on the line. The winner will carry the title on over throughout the tournament.
But who’s replacing Sergio? Well, that would be Raufeon Stots (17-1), another Roufusport rep with a killer wrestling pedigree, improved and sharp standup, and an aggressive submission game from the back. Stots is already on a nine-fight win streak and appeared primed to be near the title already. Now things have fallen in place for his shot to materialize and he’s got a great chance at wearing Bellator gold by the end of the night.
Archuleta’s got great wrestling and runs a good pace with his standup, often softening opponents up with clinchwork and making sure he’s out of the way of counters. Stots has a more conservative game and a lot of crafty setups for his takedowns. It’s an excellent matchup and fans are fortunate to have it happen now and not later.
But that’s only the second bantamweight GP fight. Patchy Mix (15-1) challenged Archuleta for the title last year, falling short in a decision loss. But back to back submission wins against Albert Morales and James Gallagher landed him a tournament spot and he’s got a very tall order ahead against former RIZIN an Bellator champ Kyoji Horiguchi (29-4). Mix has range striking and a submission game that is nothing short of phenomenal. He may be the best submission fighter not only in Bellator’s bantamweight division, but in the promotion overall.
But he’s facing Horiguchi. A standout striker with great wrestling and a killer submission game of his own, coached by the inimitable Mike Brown. Mix will have an arsenal of weapons whether the fight goes to the ground on his terms or Horiguchi’s, but he’ll have to worry about what happens if things stay upright and he can’t get the fight to run at his preferred pace. It’s still intriguing, as the young upstart is still in the hunt and can pull off a massive upset in the opening fight.
Former Flyweight champ Ilima-Lei MacFarlane (11-1) is ready to get back to business and make a case for another title shot as she faces former UFC fighter Justine Kish (7-5). Kish has a very sharp Muay Thai base and can present a set of problems at range and in the clinch, although the story changes if she ends up on her back against a talented grappler like MacFarlane. It should be a good one.
Lance Gibson Jr (5-0) has been a success in progress for Bellator, being a bright prospect and son of a great coach with a brutal ground game. So far, he appears primed for big things in their lightweight division. But he’s not getting a pushover here, he’s up against Nainoa Dung (4-2), a very talented and disciplined prospect under the tutelage of Henri Hooft.
Another Hawaiian prospect gets some love on this card, as Kai Kamaka III (9-4, 1 draw) meets the very fun and very skilled Justin Gonzales (12-1). Former UFC fighter Yancy Medeiros (15-8) returns for his first fight since his UFC release as he meets Bellator mainstay Emmanuel Sanchez (20-7). Bobby King (11-4) takes on Keoni Diggs (9-1) in what could be a certified banger of a fight, and Goiti Yamauchi (26-5) tangles with Georgia’s Levan Chokheli (10-1).
You can check out the weigh-ins here:
Cristiane Cyborg (144) Arlene Blencowe (144.6) – Bellator featherweight title
Juan Archuleta (134.6) vs. Raufeon Stots (135) – Bellator interim bantamweight title
Kyoji Horiguchi (134.2) vs. Patchy Mix (135) – Bantamweight GP opening bout
Justine Kish (125.2) vs. Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (126) – Flyweight
Janay Harding (146) vs. Dayana Silva (145.6) – Featherweight
Nainoa Dung (155.4) vs. Lance Gibson Jr. (155.6) – Lightweight
Justin Gonzales (145.6) vs. Kai Kamaka (145) – Featherweight
Levan Chokheli (169.6) vs. Goiti Yamauchi (170.6) – Welterweight
Yancy Medeiros (155.4) vs. Emmanuel Sanchez (155.4) – Lightweight
Keoni Diggs (156) vs. Bobby King (155.2) – Lightweight
Randi Field (120) vs. Maraya Miller (119.6) – 120lb bout
Ryan Dela Cruz (135.2) vs. Jordan Winski (135.6) – Bantamweight
Sumiko Inaba (125.2) vs. Whittany Pyles (127.4)** – Flyweight
**Pyles missed weight by 1.4lbs
Bellator 279: Cybrog vs Blencowe 2 takes place this Saturday night live from Honolulu, HI with prelims starting at 8:00pm EST, streaming live on YouTube. Main card starts at 10:00pm exclusively on Showtime.
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