5 Questions that could be answered at Bellator 279

The poster for Bellator 279 (Photo credit BellatorMMA).
The poster for Bellator 279 (Photo credit BellatorMMA).
Giancarlo Aulino

Bellator 279 will take place at the Neal S. Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu, Hawaii, which will wrap up back-to-back nights of action. Over the two nights, fans will get to see three title fights and the start of the bantamweight Grand Prix.

Saturday night will be headlined by the Women’s Featherweight Championship bout between champion Cris Cyborg and Arlene Blencowe. It will be a rematch of their 2020 encounter in which Cyborg earned a technical knockout win and her first title defense.

The bantamweight Grand Prix also gets underway on Saturday night. Reigning RIZIN Bantamweight Champion Kyoji Horiguchi will take on former title challenger Patchy Mix.

In the co-main event, former bantamweight champion Juan Archuleta will take on Raufeon Stots for the Interim Bantamweight Championship. It’s a significant bout as the winner will defend the interim championship throughout the Grand Prix. This list will look at five questions that could be answered at Bellator 279.

#5. How will former Bellator featherweight title challenger Emmanuel Sanchez fare at lightweight?

There’s a lot at stake for former champion Emmanuel Sanchez at Bellator 279. The former featherweight title challenger returns to the cage, but this time for a lightweight bout.

Sanchez welcomes UFC veteran Yancy Medeiros to the promotion in one of the featured bouts on the preliminaries. 'El Matador' will be looking to snap his three-fight losing skid. He was submitted by Patricio Pitbull and then dropped unanimous decisions to Jeremy Kennedy and Mads Burnell. On the other hand, ‘The Kid’ is looking to get back on track in his new promotion. He has lost four-straight bouts dating back to 2018, which led to his release from the UFC.

‘El Matador’ will be looking to have a career resurgence at lightweight as a win could create many opportunities. There are many appealing matchups for him at 155lbs and he may perform better without the burden of cutting down to 145lbs.

#4) Could former Bellator women’s flyweight Ilima-Lei Macfarlane get back into title contention?

It’ll be a homecoming for Ilima-Lei Macfarlane when she steps into the cage at Bellator 279. The former Women’s Flyweight Champion will be competing for the first time since losing her title to Juliana Velasquez in 2020.

‘The Ilimanator’ will have an opportunity to get right back into title contention if she’s impressive against Justine Kish. Fans will be intrigued to see how Macfarlane performs, especially considering that she hasn’t fought in over a year. Kish will also be looking to earn her first win in the promotion and snap her three-fight losing skid.

Prior to her title loss, Macfarlane was unbeaten in her professional career. Timing is also in her favor as the championship bout between Juliana Velasquez and Liz Carmouche takes place the night before. If Macfarlane has an impressive performance, it could be hard to deny her a title shot against the winner.

#3) Will former Bellator bantamweight champion Kyoji Horiguchi bounce back from his knockout loss?

It will be interesting to see how former Bellator bantamweight champion Kyoji Horiguchi fares on his return to the cage. It will be his first fight since his knockout loss to current bantamweight champion Sergio Pettis last December.

'The Typhoon' officially kicks off the Grand Prix when he fights former title challenger Patchy Mix. He is still viewed by many as the favorite, especially considering that he’s still the reigning RIZIN Bantamweight Champion. It will be a tough matchup as Mix has excellent grappling, which was on display when he submitted James Gallagher last November.

There is plenty to gain for Horiguchi as he has an opportunity to become a two-promotion champion for the second time. And like past Grand Prix tournaments, he will also have an opportunity to win the $1 million in prize.

#2) Can Arlene Blencowe pull off an upset and become Bellator Women’s Featherweight Champion?

Arlene Blencowe has an incredible opportunity to steal all the headlines when she challenges Cris Cyborg for the Bellator women’s featherweight championship. This is her second title shot against the reigning champion and she’ll hope this fight has a different outcome.

The first bout between the two took place in 2020. Cyborg retained the belt via second submission after a rear-naked choke. ‘Angerfist’ regrouped and had a great showing last year. She won both her fights and showed many improvements. Blencowe defeated Dayana Silva by third-round technical knockout and then earned a unanimous decision over Pam Sorenson.

Sinead Kavanagh was originally slated to get a title shot and rematch with Cyborg. But the promotion was forced to look at other alternatives after Kavanagh sustained an injury. At 39, ‘Angerfist’ might not get another opportunity like this and will look to make the most of it.

#1) Who will become interim Bellator Bantamweight Champion?

Just when Bellator’s Bantamweight Grand Prix couldn’t get anymore intriguing, an Interim Bantamweight Champion will be crowned.

In addition to the qualifiers, the interim title bout will determine who will be the defending champion throughout the tournament. Reigning champion Sergio Pettis was originally scheduled to defend against Raufeon Stots in the opening round. But Pettis was forced to withdraw from the tournament and was replaced by former champion Juan Archuleta.

Stots has ascended the bantamweight rankings since joining the promotion and is definitely a fighter to keep an eye on. 'Supa' comes into the Grand Prix unbeaten in his past nine fights. His most recent win over Magomed Magomedov was his most impressive as he out-grappled him and earned a unanimous decision win.

Archuleta has a lot to prove in his own right. He’ll be competing for the first time since losing the bantamweight championship to Pettis last May. 'The Spaniard' will look to make a statement by handing Stots his first loss in the promotion and advance to the semi-finals.

Edited by Phil Dillon


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