Bellator 259: Cris Cyborg vs. Leslie Smith 2: Prediction and Analysis

Published 05/19/2021, 2:17 PM EDT
INGLEWOOD, CA – JANUARY 25: Cris Cyborg (blue gloves) in the cage after defeating Julia Budd in their featherweight world title fight at The Forum on January 25, 2020 in Inglewood, California. Cyborg won by TKO in the 4th round. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

Former UFC superstar Cris Cyborg is now plying her trade in Bellator. She might have grown older, but she is still as fearless as ever, competing for the Bellator women’s featherweight championship and winning it. She is defending her title again this Friday as she is facing another veteran fighter, Leslie Smith.


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The two first met in Cyborg’s UFC debut at UFC 198 in May 2016, with Justino winning the 140-pound catchweight bout in 81 seconds.

She went on to capture the UFC women’s featherweight championship at UFC 214 and defend it twice against Holly Holm and Yana Kunitskaya before losing it to Amanda Nunes. Nunes holds the title to this day and also holds the UFC women’s bantamweight championship alongside it.


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EDMONTON, ALBERTA – JULY 27: Cris Cyborg of Brazil prepares to fight Felicia Spencer of Canada in their featherweight bout during the UFC 240 event at Rogers Place on July 27, 2019, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC)

After losing her title, Cyborg fought with the UFC one more time, beating Felicia Spencer, but then left for Bellator. The 35-year-old was instantly given a title shot against Julia Budd, and she delivered. Cyborg won the title convincingly and then defended it against Arlene Blencowe to improve her record to an impressive 23-2.

Cris Cyborg fighting style and stats

Cyborg is an anomaly in women’s MMA; she has an amazing record and has only lost twice. With one of those losses coming against the greatest female fighter of all time in Amanda Nunes, no one doubts her capability. She is a knockout artist, with 18 of her 23 wins coming via knockout.

Cyborg has black belts in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to complement and improve her striking. She has only been submitted once in her entire career and has good takedown defense. Additionally, she earned the first submission win of her career against Blencowe, showing that she has added to her already potent arsenal.

Leslie Smith fighting style and stats

On the other hand, her opponent Leslie Smith doesn’t really believe in making her opponents submit. She is predominantly a striker, too, and will be looking to capitalize on her one-inch height advantage. She has a subpar record of 12-8-1, and the odds seem to be stacked against her.

CURITIBA, BRAZIL – MAY 14: (L-R) Cristiane ‘Cyborg’ Justino of Brazil celebrates after defeating Leslie Smith in their women’s catchweight bout during the UFC 198 event at Arena da Baixada stadium on May 14, 2016, in Curitiba, Parana, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Their first fight was a dominant win for Cyborg as she finished Smith in the first round. However, the American has improved considerably since that fight, and she is in the best moment of her career. If there was a time in her career where she could beat Cyborg, it would be now.


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Prediction: Cris Cyborg wins via first-round TKO/ KO

Beating Cyborg is a tough ask for anyone not named Amanda Nunes, and Smith is a huge underdog coming into this fight. However, if she pulls off an upset, it would be one of the greatest wins of her career.

Do you think Leslie Smith stands a chance against Cris Cyborg?


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Aniket Awasthi

260 articles

Aniket Awasthi is a UFC author at EssentiallySports. This STEM undergraduate combines an insatiable urge to write with his admiration for MMA and the UFC in general to enhance his journalism. He calls charismatic names like Chael Sonnen and 'The Count' Michael Bisping as his favorite fighters, but he is a great admirer of the rise of Israel Adesanya ever since he fought Rob Wilkinson at UFC 221.