Cris Cyborg just keeps rolling. The Bellator women’s featherweight champion was as dominant as ever in defending her belt for the third time, beating Sinead Kavanagh in the first round of the Bellator 271 main event on Friday night in Hollywood, Florida.
That fight looked more like most of the fights during Cyborg’s 16-year professional career. She came out striking Kavanagh, grabbing her against the cage and releasing punches that within the first minute bled her face.
Kavanagh (7-5), a 35-year-old from Ireland who trains in the same SBG Dublin gym as Conor McGregor, did manage to get her back out of the cage and, relying on his background as an amateur boxer, she started trading. punches with Cyborg. Bad idea.
A right hand swayed the challenger and another right sent her crashing to the canvas, flat on her back. Referee Jason Herzog immediately jumped to swing the fight as a knockout at 1 minute, 32 seconds from Round 1.
For Cyborg (25-2, 1 NC), a former 145-pound champion in the UFC, Strikeforce and Invicta FC claims, it was her fifth straight win and the 11th first-round knockout of her career. The 36-year-old Brazilian, who lives and trains in Southern California, has only one loss in his past 27 fights, a success that extends back to her professional MMA debut in 2005.
In an interview later inside the cage, Cyborg, who was a 25-1 betting favorite, smiled as she apologized to her coaches.
“Sorry, my team,” she said. “I didn’t do anything we planned.”
Then Cyborg put this virtuoso performance behind her and shifted her focus to her next title defense. She mentioned that she claimed a fight with former UFC title challenger Cat Zingano, who has won two fights since signing with Bellator two years ago.
“But I leave it to Scott Coker,” Cyborg said, referring to the Bellator president. “I don’t pick fights.”
However, a fight may end up picking her up. Cyborg was reminded that among those in the crowd at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino was two-time PFL lightweight champion Kayla Harrison, who is a free agent and oversaw her picks. She was at UFC 268 last Saturday. On Friday evening, she was at Bellator 271.
“Kayla, thank you for coming to the fights. I really appreciate you being here,” Cyborg told Harrison, a 2012 and 2016 Olympic gold medalist in judo. “I’m here. If you want to fight me one day, it’s going to be a great fight.”