Cris Cyborg to fight Leslie Smith in a rematch at Bellator 259

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One of the all-time best female fighters Cris Cyborg is set to defend her title against Leslie Smith in their rematch at Bellator 259.

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Cris Cyborg (23-2 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) will put her women’s featherweight title on the line against Leslie Smith (12-8-1 MMA, 2-2 BMMA) in the Bellator 259 main event. The promotion announced the headliner during Friday’s Bellator 255 broadcast, which was its debut on Showtime.

Bellator 259 is set for May 21 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. The main card for that event will air on Showtime following prelims on MMA Junkie. Besides, Christian Edwards (4-0 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) will fight Ben Parrish (4-1 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) in a light heavyweight bout on the card, and Georgi Karakhanyan (30-11-1 MMA, 8-9 BMMA) vs. Adam Piccolotti (12-4 MMA, 8-4 BMMA) has been booked at lightweight.

Cris Cyborg and Leslie Smith set for their rematch

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Cyborg and Smith first fought in the UFC in 2016. Cyborg, making her Octagon debut, stopped Smith in 81 seconds in a 140-pound catchweight bout.

Appearing on the broadcast recently, Smith indicated she felt the first bout was stopped too quickly and felt another meeting with Cyborg would go her way.

“Luckily, I’ve had the past five years to work on it,” said Smith, who signed with Bellator one month before Cyborg in April 2019. “I’ve also been in this camp for a couple of months. I’m ready for anything. I’ve been training all aspects of my game.”

Smith signed a new deal with Bellator ahead of her shot at Cyborg’s title. It will be Smith’s first title bout in seven and a half years. She lost a fight for Invicta FC’s flyweight title to Barb Honchak in December 2013.

After that, Smith moved back to bantamweight in the UFC, where she went 4-3 in seven fights from 2014-2017. Her relationship with the UFC was a rocky one toward the end when it came to contract issues and, she has said, because of her involvement with Project Spearhead, an organization that wants to unionize MMA fighters.

Smith signed with Bellator and has gone 2-1 with decision wins against Sinead Kavanagh and Amanda Bell sandwiched around a decision loss to Arlene Blencowe.

While Cris Cyborg lost the UFC women’s featherweight title to current two-division champion Amanda Nunes in late 2018 – her first loss since her May 2005 pro debut – Cyborg had one more win in the UFC, then signed with Bellator.

In her promotional debut in January 2020, she took out longtime champion Julia Budd with a fourth-round TKO to win the belt. This past October, she had her first title defense and submitted Arlene Blencowe in the second round.

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