Arlene Blencowe thinks she’s earned another title shot with win over Leslie Smith at Bellator 233

THACKERVILLE, Okla. – Arlene Blencowe thinks she’s positioned herself as the No. 1 contender after this past Friday.

She defeated Leslie Smith by unanimous decision at Bellator 233, outpointing her on the strength of her jab en route to a 30-27 sweep on the judges’ scorecards.

Blencowe (13-7 MMA, 6-3 BMMA) was narrowly edged out by current 145-pound champion Julia Budd nearly two years ago at Bellator 189 for the women’s featherweight title. It was her second loss to the champ.

Since then, Blencowe has won three in a row and thinks she’s done enough to get the next title shot against the winner of Budd and Cris Cyborg, who are set to fight for Budd’s title at Bellator 236 on Jan. 25.

“Obviously, since my controversial split decision loss to Julia, I’ve just worked my way back into the next title shot,” Blencowe told MMA Junkie after her win over Smith. “I knew just getting wins is what I needed. I got two stoppage wins. I was hoping for a third win by stoppage, but we also knew that Leslie was a tough girl, so she doesn’t go down easy. But I definitely I think I’ve earned my spot to get another shot at the title.”

And while avenging her loss to Budd is definitely on her mind, a stylistic matchup against Cyborg is also something that interests her.

“To be honest, if it’s Julia, yeah, that would be awesome,” Blencowe said. “I’ve got some redemption to do there. But Cyborg’s another awesome fight. I’d love to stand in there and bang it out with her. I’ll just be sitting back in January, just excited to watch a good, quality fight, and I think both girls are going to be absolutely awesome.”

Artem Lobov says there’s still some unfinished business with Khabib Nurmagomedov

The SBG Ireland vs. Dagestan war may be far from over.

It all started with Artem Lobov, good friend and training partner of former UFC dual champion Conor McGregor, who was confronted by lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov and his crew backstage at UFC 223.

McGregor came to Lobov’s defense soon after and flew to New York, where he threw a hand truck through the window of a bus that carried Nurmagomedov and his team. Eventually, McGregor and Nurmagomedov fought at UFC 229, where Nurmagomedov retained the lightweight title with a fourth-round submission.

Following his win, Nurmagomedov jumped the cage and attacked McGregor’s corner, and a brawl ensued. But after a few altercations, a brawl, suspensions, and a fight, the bad blood has not boiled over.

Ever since then, McGregor has been campaigning for a rematch, and the man who was initially in the center of it all, Lobov, said things are certainly not cordial between him and Nurmagomdov.

“Definitely, things are not fine,” Lobov told Chael Sonnen. “There’s some unsettled business there, and I think in due course it will all be settled. But as of now, it’s definitely not. Not even close.”

But Lobov admits he doesn’t mind that the beef is not settled, after all, it keeps his name relevant, and his bank account pretty.

“It’s Khabib’s fans obviously, I have a lot of Russian fans, myself, that support me – and obviously he has a lot of guys that support him,” Lobov said. “So obviously his guys that support him, they always have a lot to say about me, but I don’t mind. It keeps my name in the headlines, it keeps my name in the Internet searches, and as a result, it keeps my salary nice and high.”

Since being released by the UFC, Lobov has signed with Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship, where he picked up unanimous decision wins over fellow UFC veteran Jason Knight and former boxing world champion Paulie Malignaggi, who infamously had a falling out with McGregor when helping him prepare for his boxing match against Floyd Mayweather.

Lobov is set to rematch Knight at BKFC 9 on Nov. 16 in the night’s headliner.

Logan Storley: Win over D-I wrestler E.J. Brooks at Bellator 233 speaks to my wrestling ability

THACKERVILLE, Okla. – Logan Storley’s win Friday at Bellator 233 was a major feather in his cap.

Storley (11-0 MMA, 6-0 BMMA), a four time All-American wrestler,  took on former Division-I wrestler E.J. Brooks. He picked up a TKO win when Brooks didn’t come back out for the second round with an apparent broken arm.

Storley was able to hurt Brooks early, throwing a couple of kicks that hurt Brooks’ arm. He was then able to use his wrestling to take the fight to the mat, and after the end of Round 1, Brooks’ corner stopped the fight with Brooks unable to continue due to the injury.

The game plan for Storley was to come out aggressive and put pressure on Brooks, which he was able to do. The arm injury suffered by Brooks made it that much harder for him to get off the mat when Storley was all over him.

“I knew that first kick, I think it was the first or second kick that hurt him,” Storley told MMA Junkie after the fight. “I felt him underneath when I kept putting it on him, and forcing him to push off of it – and that was a hard, grinding pace, the first five. That’s what I wanted to do because I felt him slowly losing that energy and me just getting into more dominant positions, but it takes a while to get to that. You don’t just get to go land big shots right away. You have to wear these guys out, then you can set the pace and fight your fight.”

Storley thinks taking out an accomplished wrestler in Brooks proves how good his wrestling is.

“It took a little longer than I wanted, getting to those positions, but he’s a former Division-I wrestler,” Storley said. “He’s beat really good guys in wrestling, and that’s what people don’t understand is, that guy was a really good Division-I wrestler. So for me to go out there and dominate a former Division-I wrestler like that, I think that speaks to my wrestling ability.”

Bellator 233’s Kyle Crutchmer happy to be compared to teammates Cormier, Khabib – if he has bank account to match

THACKERVILLE, Okla. – With his strong wrestling background, Kyle Crutchmer is happy to draw comparisons to his teammates – but not necessarily to their fighting styles.

Crutchmer (5-0 MMA, 1-0 BMMA), who was a two-time NCAA All-American wrestler at Oklahoma State University, has a strong grappling background like former two-division UFC champion Daniel Cormier and UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov, his teammates at American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif.

Crutchmer improved to 5-0 Friday at Bellator 233 in his promotional debut with a unanimous decision win over Robert Gidron. He used his superior wrestling to control the fight and showed off some of his striking, too.

But with inevitable comparisons to his accomplished wrestling teammates at AKA, Crutchmer is more concerned with making similar paydays down the line.

“I don’t know how many people knock dudes down with spinning back fists, but I threw that (expletive) today – it landed, it knocked him down, so I’ve got a little bit different style from (them),” Crutchmer told MMA Junkie. “But listen, man, at the end of the day, if my bank account says what ‘D.C.’ and Khabib’s say – man, you can compare me to whoever you want to compare me to.”

His opponent, Gidron, stepped in on short notice for the fight. But the natural middleweight missed weight for the 170-pound bout by nearly five pounds. While Crutchmer is accustomed to being the smaller opponent, he says Gidron had an apparent size difference, a challenge he was able to overcome.

“My wrestling kind of speaks for itself,” Crutchmer said. “I think I would be dumb to not at least attempt it in the first, to see how hard or how easy it would be. Man, that guy was big. People don’t realize – he missed weight by five pounds. He’s never fought at (1)70, I don’t think, so he had some height on me, too. So some of those things, I was trying to get to. It took a lot more than people could see.”

And there was no doubt in his mind that he was going to accept the fight regardless, as he looks to begin his ascent in the Bellator 170-pound rankings.

“I’m in this to prove I’m the baddest mother(expletive) in the world, and if I’m turning down fights or I’m saying no to somebody, then why am I doing this?” Crutchmer said. “I knew it was going to be hard. You could see it, how big he was, and that does play a factor in fights. I had no hesitation. I told our coaches, ‘I’ll get paid a little bit more and we’ll roll with it.’”

ONE Championship 102 highlights: Geje Eustaquio’s sick liver kick, Joshua Pacio’s slick title defense

ONE Championship 102 is in the books, and you can check out the highlights right here on MMA Junkie.

ONE Championship 101 took place Friday at Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines, and streamed on B/R Live.

In the main event, Joshua Pacio defended his strawweight title with a second-round arm-triangle choke against Rene Catalan. But ahead of that, there were some brilliant stoppages – including Geje Eustaquio’s one-kick shot to the liver to stop Toni Tauro

You can watch the highlights in the video above.

Sean Shelby’s Shoes: What’s next for Calvin Kattar after UFC on ESPN+ 21 loss?

(ALSO SEE: Sean Shelby’s Shoes: What’s next for Zabit Magomedsharipov and UFC on ESPN+ 21’s other key winners?)

Calvin Kattar had everything working against him at UFC on ESPN+ 21, and unfortunately he couldn’t overcome the obstacles.

After he was originally supposed to fight Zabit Magomedsharipov (18-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC) in his hometown of Boston, the featherweight contender fight was shifted into enemy territory in Russia. Kattar (20-4 MMA, 4-2 UFC) fell short, losing a unanimous decision in the headlining bout at CSKA Arena in Moscow.

The matchup was an opportunity for Kattar to break through and establish himself as a top contender at 145 pounds. He didn’t get there this time, but he showed a good account for himself in the “Fight of the Night.”

What does the loss mean for Kattar? Watch the video above for thoughts and analysis on his future.

Bellator 233’s Tyrell Fortune says Jake Hager ‘out of my league,’ but would love to welcome Tyson Fury to MMA

THACKERVILLE, Okla. – After Tyrell Fortune’s second-round TKO finish of Azunna Anyanwu, his coach wanted him to call out former WWE star Jake Hager again. But he has his sights set on another potential cross-codes fight.

Backstage after his win at Bellator 233 this past Friday, Fortune (8-0 MMA, 8-0 BMMA) laughed about the difference of opinion.

“Coach wants me to talk some (expletive) on Swagger still,” Fortune told MMA Junkie. “But I’m like, ‘Dude, he’s out of my league. He’s not even close.’

“Tyson Fury’s better than (expletive) Swagger. At least that’s some competition. Swagger ain’t got (expletive). He still ain’t punching people. He’s still trying to take them down.”

That’s not to say that Fortune won’t take the Hager fight if offered, mind you. He’d take it in a heartbeat.

“I’d beat his ass for fun,” he said. “It’d be an easy check, of course.”

Fortune was in an understandably good mood after his performance against Anyanwu (15-6 MMA, 0-1 BMMA). He stayed patient throughout a largely uneventful first round as he studied his opponent before exploding on him in the second round for a clinical, impressive TKO finish.

“I wasn’t in a rush,” he said. “I knew second round, I would go for the knockout. I was just getting the timing and feeling for everything.”

And when he connected big after the break, he knew it was time to finish the job.

“I could see his legs start moving and his eyes went the other direction, so I knew, ‘OK, it’s time to get him.’”

Fortune’s latest victory pushes him one step closer to the sharp end of Bellator’s heavyweight division as the undefeated former wrestling standout continues to impress inside the Bellator cage.

And while he had previously expressed his frustration at being brought along slowly, Fortune is getting more comfortable with his slow-played developmental management by the Bellator matchmakers.

“I can beat everybody up on my way up,” he said. “Nobody’s a threat to me. I’m not worried. Everybody’s looking at me. They’re worried about what I’m about to do. So I’m in no rush.”

And if that slower path to the top means there’s room in his schedule to take on undefeated former heavyweight boxing champion Fury, he’d be more than happy to welcome Fury to the world of MMA.

“Fury talked to (UFC president) Dana White and he wanted to get into MMA, and Dana White said he didn’t want to take the fight,” he said. “So if (Bellator president) Scott Coker wants to sign Fury, I’d be willing to knock his ass out.”

And while some people may think the idea is a far-fetched one, Fortune has a different take.

“Do you see the matchups in Bellator?” he said. “Yeah, I see that and think it’s a realistic match. Michael “Venom” Page fought a guy who was 3-2 after Douglas Lima. Did that make any sense? I don’t think so.

“But yeah, Tyson Fury’s a name, he holds a heavyweight boxing title, so I think that makes a lot of sense, especially for an up-and-comer like me. Who wouldn’t want to see a fight like that?”