Cristiane 'Cyborg' Justino Notches First Submission Win in Bellator 249 Main Event

By: Tyler Treese
Oct 16, 2020

Cristiane Justino is still the Bellator MMA women's featherweight champion and picked up her first submission win in the process.

"Cyborg" put the title she won from Julia Budd on the line against challenger Arlene Blencowe. Justino (23-2, 1 NC) took her opponent down midway through Round 1 and easily gained mount. After transitioning to the back, the Brazilian was able to unleash powerful punches. The tough challenger survived the first round but it set the pace the fight would follow.

Justino opened Round 2 by bloodying up Blencowe (13-8) on the feet with an incredible flurry of punches and then took her opponent down. Heavy shots from mount forced the Australian to give up her back and "Cyborg" locked in a rear-naked choke at 2:36 of the round. This marks the first submission win for the champion.

Outside of the main event, there was some late drama at Bellator 249. The scheduled co-main event between Patricky Freire and Jaleel Willis was scrapped by the Mohegan Sun Commission, which did not medically clear "Pitbull" to fight. Per Sherdog's own Keith Shillan, Bellator will compensate both fighters despite the late cancellation. The removal saw Ricky Bandejas vs. Leandro Higo bumped up to the co-main event slot as a result.

It was the grappling of Higo (20-5) that proved to be the difference against Bandejas (13-5), as the Brazilian easily controlled his foe on the ground. Higo took the American down early in Round 2 and took the back, where he locked in a rear-naked choke that forced a tap at 2:32. While it was a dominant win for Higo, it comes with an asterisk as the fighter missed weight by three pounds.

Heavyweights Steve Mowry and Shawn Teed threw down in their bout, which was elevated from the prelims to the main card. Mowry (8-0) repeatedly tagged Teed (6-3-1) with knees in Round 1 and had a clear striking advantage from the get-go. A big knee up the middle would end Teed's night at the 4:22 mark of the first round.

The main card opener saw lightweights Saad Awad and Mandel Nallo face off. Sadly, the fight never got into full gear as Nallo (7-1-1, 1 NC) accidentally kneed Awad (23-13-1, 1 NC) in the groin, which left the Bellator veteran unable to continue. The fight was called off and declared a no-contest at 1:44 of Round 1.

In preliminary action, Andrew Kapel (16-7) was awarded a doctor stoppage at the end of Round 2 due to a cut suffered by Joseph Creer (7-2-1); Kemran Lachinov (10-2) won a controversial and hard-fought unanimous decision over Kyle Crutchmer (6-1) with 29-28 scorecards across the board; The ground game of Christian Edwards (4-0) was too much for Hamza Salim (5-4), who tapped to a rear-naed choke 1:28 into the second round; Da'Mon Blackshear (8-3) tapped Mike Kimbel (3-3) with a rear-naked choke 4:14 into Round 2; Aviv Gozali (5-0) stayed undefeated by submitting Logan Neal (1-1) in just 3:22 with a kimura; and despite suffering a dislocated arm, Albert Gonzales (2-2) defeated Kastriot Xhema (3-5, 1 NC) via retirement after two rounds of action.
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