Cris ‘Cyborg’ Defends Featherweight Title vs. Leslie Smith in Bellator 259 Headliner

By: Tristen Critchfield
Apr 3, 2021

Cristiane Justino will defend her featherweight crown against Leslie Smith in the Bellator 259 main event.

The California-based promotion recently announced the booking. Bellator 259 takes place on May 21 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., and the main card airs on Showtime at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT. Two other bouts were confirmed for the card: Adam Piccolotti vs. Georgi Karakhanyan at lightweight and Christian Edwards vs. Ben Parrish at light heavyweight.

Justino and Smith initially squared off at UFC 198, where “Cyborg” earned a technical knockout victory 1:21 into the opening stanza of a 140-pound catchweight affair.

“I believe [after] five years she’s going to be a better fighter,” Justino said. “More training, more working and fighting. More experience. The first fight was very fast, so I think this one is going to be a longer fight. She’s a warrior. She likes to fight and it’s going to be nice to fight somebody like this.”

A former 145-pound champion in the UFC, Strikeforce and Invicta FC, Justino claimed her fourth featherweight crown with a fourth-round TKO of Julia Budd at Bellator 238. Most recently, the 35-year-old Brazilian defended the strap with a second-round submission of Arlene Blencowe at Bellator 249 this past October.

Smith has won two of three Bellator appearances since rejoining the organization in 2019. “The Peacemaker earned a majority verdict over Sinead Kavanagh at Bellator 224 before dropping a unanimous decision against Blencowe at Bellator 233. In her last outing, the 38-year-old Cesar Gracie Fight Team representative outpointed Amanda Bell at Bellator 245.

“Of course, I want this fight,” Smith said. “Everyone’s goal is to get a title in the premiere organization, which this is. This is the best organization for my weight class, and the best possible place I can be. I can guarantee it will be an entertaining fight.”
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