Featherweight champion Cris Cyborg has the blessing of Bellator MMA to fight Irish star Katie Taylor in a crossover boxing match as long as the unified lightweight champion from the square circle is prepared to take on the mixed martial artist in the cage in a return fight, the MMA fight league’s president Scott Coker confirmed yesterday.
Coker, announcing a broadcast deal with CBS Sports in the USA, an inaugural European event in Paris, another in Milan, both in October and Cyborg’s next title defence, told The Telegraph: “I would be thrilled. This is a goal that is important to Cyborg. She told me a year ago when I signed her that she wanted to box and become a world champion in boxing.”
“We have been approached by three or four females to fight, but while having a boxing title under her belt is something she wants to do, my request is – win, lose, or draw – when the boxing match is done, they reciprocate and come and have an MMA fight in the next six months. Then, in my view, it’s fair. If this is something she [Cyborg] wants to do, we are going to support her.”
The Cyborg-Taylor fight could be signed without complication given the relationship boxing promoter Eddie Hearn has with Taylor and DAZN. The digital broadcasters also have a deal with Bellator.
Coker announced on the eve of its 245 event at Mohegan Sun Resort, Connecticut, a permanent base during the closed door event period, that the leading mixed martial arts promotion owned by ViacomCBS, would begin a new partnership with CBS Sports Network, with all its live events featured on the 24-hour home of CBS Sports beginning this autumn, bringing the sport to a wider audience. Bellator has broadcast deals in the UK with Sky Sports with Channel 5 hosting its European Series.
The CBS Sports Network partnership will begin with Bellator 247 on Thursday, October 1 from Milan, Italy, followed by Bellator Paris, an inaugural history-making MMA event in France on Saturday, October 10.
Bellator 247 will be headlined by a welterweight battle between British veteran Paul Daley (42-17-2) and American Derek Anderson (16-3, 1 NC), with Bellator Paris featuring Britain’s Michael ‘Venom’ Page (17-1) facing Ross Houston (8-0, 1 NC) at welterweight and heavyweight Cheick Kongo (30-10-2, 1 NC) against Tim Johnson (14-6).
The fight league returns to Mohegan Sun five days later, Coker confirmed, with Cyborg (22-2, 1 NC) making her first defence of the Bellator featherweight title the Brazilian claimed from Julia Budd pre-lockdown against Australian Arlene Blencowe (13-7).
Cyborg, one of the greatest female fighters of all time, made history by becoming a world champion in her fourth major promotion, previously holding belts in both the UFC and Strikeforce. With a professional record of 22-2, 1 No Contest, including 18 stoppage wins, the Brazilian-born fighter holds victories over tough competition such as Budd, Holly Holm, Felicia Spencer and Gina Carano.
With wins in six of her last seven fights, including five knockouts, “Angerfist” has put herself in position to challenge for the women’s featherweight title. Coming off a unanimous decision victory over Leslie Smith, the former two-time boxing world champion will look to keep her momentum rolling and claim her first MMA title.
Coker said the fight league was “thrilled” with “a unique partnership” explaining: “CBS Sports is synonymous with iconic sports broadcasting and it is incredible to now have Bellator MMA included in that family. I would like to thank Paramount Network, formerly Spike TV, for the years of support that helped build Bellator into the organisation that it is today, and this news marks yet another exciting relationship between two ViacomCBS properties. I look forward to bringing the biggest fights, featuring the top athletes in the world, live to CBS Sports Network and introducing Bellator to an entirely new audience this fall.”
At Bellator 245 on Friday night, Phil Davis eased to victory over Lyoto Machida for the second time – they met in 2013 in Rio de Janeiro – in a cagey, close stand up affair, with the American claiming a 29-28 split decision on the judges’ cards over the Brazilian legend, now 42. Davis will now look for a rematch with incumbent Bellator light heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov.
In the co-main event, Cat Zingano decisioned Gabby Holloway on her Bellator debut, outwrestling her foe to claim a dominant hands-on victory, after two years out of the cage. Kickboxing legend turned MMA fighter Raymond Daniels was fortunate, however, that his fight with Peter Stanonik was declared a No Contest in the second round after a horrific spinning back kick to the groin from Daniels. Even worse, it was the second kick to the crown jewels. It left hapless Stanonik crawling around the cage on his hands and knees making bellowing sounds.
Tonight, Juan Archuleta looks to complete a lifetime ambition by winning the vacant Bellator bantamweight title against Patchy Mix, telling Telegraph Sport this week that “the ambition is to inspire MMA in Spain.”
“This is bigger than me, it is what I can do for the sport in Spain,” said Archuleta, who starts as a minor underdog, but has the credentials, size, and determination to claim a Bellator title at the second attempt against the dangerous Mix.