In May 2016, Leslie Smith didn"t manage to make it 90 secs against the pressure of nature that is Cris Cybog. On Friday, Smith will certainly hope that 5 years of development will be sufficient to score a career-specifying upset once the pair recomplement for Cyborg"s featherweight title in the main occasion of Bellator 259.

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The 2 initially met at UFC 198 in a 140-pound catchweight fight. The fight was Cyborg"s initially in the UFC after a prolonged duration of trash talk between the then-Invicta FC champion and also UFC president Dana White -- along with then-UFC women"s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey. A long-disputed fight through Rousey never before came together, however Cyborg did regulate a 6-1 record in the Octagon, consisting of a scolor as 145-pound champion.

After an unceremonious end to her UFC career, Cyborg signed through Bellator MMA and also automatically beat Julia Budd to win the promotion"s featherweight title, ending up being the first womale to organize championships in four "major" proactivities (Strikepressure, Invicta, UFC, Bellator).

The problem through dominance is that fresh opponents and also legitimate difficulties come to be progressively hard to come by.


Get in Smith, that was 3-2-1 in Invicta, 4-3 in the UFC and now sits at 2-2 in Bellator, preserving a level of just above .500 in significant promovements, however whose time in those promotions provides her a viable choice for a fight through Cyborg.

Can"t obtain sufficient boxing and also MMA? Get the latest in the civilization of combat sporting activities from two of the finest in the company. Subscribe to Morning Kombat via Luke Thomas and also Brian Campbell for the ideal evaluation and in-depth news, consisting of an exclusive intercheck out via Cris Cyborg ahead of Friday"s showdvery own listed below.


After a loss to Arlene Blencowe snapped a three-fight winning streak, Smith rebounded through a 2020 decision win over Amanda Bell to secure her swarm at the title. Now, it"s approximately Smith to prove the validity of her claims of her growth since the 81-second knockout loss to Cyborg the first time approximately.


"We both readjusted," Smith sassist at Bellator 259 media day. "We both have been doing this for a lengthy time, and also I understand that I have actually a a lot better level of fight maturity, fight knowledge. I"m even more cerebral. I have a better expertise on exactly how to produce and exploit avenues than I ever before did, but I know that she has changed a lot, as well. I think as our formats have actually progressed, I think this has made the fight a lot more exciting than the first fight."

Elsewbelow on the card, former bantamweight champion Darrion Caldwell is ago in activity when he takes on Leandro Higo at 135 pounds. Caldwell retransforms to the department wbelow he has actually had actually the a lot of success after shedding to AJ McKee in the Featherweight World Grand also Prix semifinals in November. He hasn"t combated at 135 pounds since losing his title to Kyoji Horiguchi in 2018 and also 2019. Higo enters the bout on a two-fight win streak.

Plus, Austin Vanderford is back in an essential bout at 185 pounds once he takes on Fabian Edwards. Vanderford, husband also of former UFC fighter Paige VanZant, has actually made a name for himself in his blossoming career. He"s 10-0 through seven stopperas to day. He picked up a decision over Vinicius de Jesus in his only bout of 2020 and holds a 4-0 note so far with the promovement. Edwards, the brvarious other of UFC welterweight competitor Leon Edwards, is coming off the first loss of his pro career. He dropped a break-up decision to Costello van Steenis in September. He"s 9-1 through an even separation throughout his wins in decisions, subobjectives and knockouts.

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Here"s the fight card for Bellator 259 via the latest odds from William Hill Sportsbook.

Bellator 259 card, odds

FavoriteUnderdogWeightclass

Cris Cyborg (c) -1200

Leslie Smith +750

Women"s featherweight title

Darrion Caldwell -310

Leandro Higo +250

Bantamweight

Austin Vanderford -240Fabian Edwards +200Middleweight
Maycon Mendonca -120Jaleel Willis +100Welterweight
Valerie Loureda -550Hannah Guy +400Women"s flyweight

Bellator 259 viewing information

Date: May 21 | Start time: 9 p.m. ETLocation: Mohegan Sun Arena -- Uncasville, ConnecticutTV Channel: Showtime | Stream: Showtime.com or the Showtime App

Prediction

Cris Cyborg vs. Leslie Smith: Smith is a capable fighter and her 4-1 document given that the initially loss to Cyborg does suggest some growth as it is tied for the best five-fight stretch of her career. That shelp, Cyborg is a sindicate on a various level from eexceptionally various other woguy on the Bellator roster. The just woguy on earth who would certainly be supposed to contend through -- let alone beat -- Cyborg is Amanda Nunes. Cyborg"s power is likely to simply be also much for Smith to be able to address in a five-round fight. But innovation can come in many type of creates, consisting of Smith doing better than the initially time around. Pick: Cris Cyborg via TKO3