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Sinead Kavanagh will fly the Irish flag in a Bellator title fight for the second consecutive event when she takes on legendary featherweight Cris Cyborg at Bellator 271 in Florida.
Kavanagh will aim to end an up-and-down period for Irish mixed-martial-arts with a victory over the veteran Brazilian.
Regardless of whether she achieves this, the fighter will go down in history as the first Irish MMA fighter to compete for a belt in the organisation.
Ciaran Clarke and Danni Nielan earned wins at last week’s Bellator 270 event at the 3Arena in Dublin but their successes were outweighed by those that fell short.
Peter Queally’s title fight loss in the main event to Patricky Pitbull, James Gallagher’s submission defeat to Patchy Mix and Stephen Costello’s first professional fight ending with a 1 in the loss column.
However, Ian Garry’s UFC debut at Madison Square Garden ended in a flash knockout before the first round was up that gave fans a glimpse into what he is capable of after a shaky start to the fight.
Kavanagh will look to add to Garry’s high and take home the Bellator Women’s Featherweight title by beating Cyborg, who has only lost twice in her professional MMA career.
Her debut fight with Erica Paes ended in defeat and her UFC Featherweight crown was taken by Amanda Nunes.
Cyborg’s opponent on Friday night, who trains with SBG Ireland, has the task of doing what has only been done twice in 16 years.
The 35-year-old Inchicore-born fighter comes into the biggest bout of her life with a two-fight win-streak under her belt.
However, previous to this streak, she suffered losses to Arlene Blencowe, who also appears on the card and Leslie Smith in a 1-4 run.
The named fighters above suffered successive defeats at the hands of the current Featherweight queen in Cyborg’s most recent title defences.
Kavanagh will have to produce the performance of a lifetime to shock the world and shape her legacy, with the odds stacked in her favour.
The next challenger for the belt may be on this card – Blencowe opens the main card of Bellator 271 with a bout against Pam Sorensen.
Cristiane Justino (145) vs. Sinead Kavanagh (145) – Women’s FW Championship
Tyrell Fortune (253.8) vs. Linton Vassell (239.2)
Aaron Pico (145.4) vs. Justin Gonzales (145.6)
Arlene Blencowe (145.8) vs. Pam Sorenson (146)
Steve Mowry (249.6) vs. Rakim Cleveland (249.6)
Valerie Loureda (127.6) vs. Taylor Turner (127.2)
Cody Law (145.4) vs. Colton Hamm (145.8)
Roman Faraldo (171) vs. Robert Turnquest (177.8)**
Bruna Ellen (125.6) vs. Desiree Yanez (125.4)
Waldo Cortes-Acosta (256.6) vs. Muhammed DeReese (255)
Mahmoud Sebie Fawzy (170.8) vs. Ethan Hughes (170.8)
Cristiane Justino (-3000) vs. Sinead Kavanagh (+1300)
Tyrell Fortune (-190) vs. Linton Vassell (+160)
Aaron Pico (-360) vs. Justin Gonzales (+280)
Arlene Blencowe (-370) vs. Pam Sorenson (+290)
Steve Mowry (-700) vs. Rakim Cleveland (+500)
Valerie Loureda (-410) vs. Taylor Turner (+310)
Cody Law (-1400) vs. Colton Hamm (+700)
Roman Faraldo (-600) vs. Robert Turnquest (+425)
Bruna Ellen (-225) vs. Desiree Yanez (+185)
Waldo Cortes-Acosta (-235) vs. Muhammed DeReese (+190)
Mahmoud Sebie Fawzy (+550) vs. Ethan Hughes (-800)
To convert the odds into fractions, click here and enter them into the Moneyline box provided.
Where To Watch
Bellator 271 will be available to watch live in Ireland on Virgin Media Sport from 11:30 pm. Alternatively, the prelims will be available to watch on the Bellator MMA YouTube channel from 12 pm.