Ahead of a weekend overflowing with mixed martial artistry, fighters from BELLATOR MMA 279: Cyborg vs. Blencowe 2 / Archuleta vs. Stots spoke to the media today before their slated fights on Saturday, February 23 at the Neal S. Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu, Hawaii. The main card will air live on SHOWTIME at 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT. The event is part of two back-to-back events BELLATOR is hosting in Honolulu – the first event being BELLATOR MMA 276: Velasquez vs. Carmouche one night prior on Friday, April 22.
A hard-hitting rematch will headline the Saturday card, as the greatest female MMA fighter of all time, Cris Cyborg (25-2, 1 NC) and No. 1-ranked female featherweight Arlene Blencowe (15-8) face each other in a BELLATOR Championship battle. Supporting the main event, No.1-ranked Juan Archuleta (25-3) will battle No.3-ranked Raufeon Stots (17-1) for the BELLATOR Interim Bantamweight World Championship. Additionally, the Bantamweight World Grand Prix will kick off with a tilt between No.2-ranked Patchy Mix (15-1) and No.5-ranked Kyoji Horiguchi (29-4). Rounding out the televised card, Hawaiian hometown favorite and No.1-ranked female flyweight Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (11-1) will fight Justine Kish (7-5).
Saturday’s eight preliminary fights will stream live on the BELLATOR MMA YouTube channel, SHOWTIME Sports YouTube channel and Pluto TV beginning at 2:30 p.m. HST local time, 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT. Fan favourites will surely be entertaining, including a featherweight contest between No.6-ranked Janay Harding (6-5) and Dayana Silva (9-7), a brawl between No.9-ranked Justin Gonzalez (12-1) and Kai Kamaka III (9-4-1) and a lightweight bout between No.6-ranked Emmanuel Sanchez (20-7) vs. Yancy Medeiros (15-8, 1 NC).
Here’s what the BELLATOR 279 fighters had to say:
CRIS CYBORG: BELLATOR FEATHERWEIGHT WORLD CHAMPION (VIDEO)
“Blencowe has been beating all the girls and she’s No. 1 in the division. I just have to be ready. She’s for sure going to be stronger than before. When you give somebody the rematch, you have to be prepared for any situation in the fight. I just feel ready and strong.
“For sure she has been focused on the rematch and has improved. I think I just have to do my game and focus on what I want to do in the fight. For sure I have to be careful of what my opponent is going to do but I will be ready for any situation in the fight.
“I always have five rounds to finish the fight. You never go into a fight thinking it’s going to finish fast. If it’s fast, it’s lucky. I’m ready to do the five rounds. I have to be patient and wait for the opportunities that are going to happen. I have to feel the fight out and I have five rounds to do that.”
ARLENE BLENCOWE: NO.1-RANKED BELLATOR WOMEN’S FEATHERWEIGHT (VIDEO)
“If anybody is an MMA fan, history has shown recently that major upsets are quite doable and achievable. Nobody would have thought that Julianna Peña would have beaten Amanda Nunes. She was a major underdog too and look what she came out and did. She shocked the world. As an Australian, we love being an underdog. There’s been some big fights in history. I have teammates that have shocked the world and I’m ready to do that. I let a moment slip by in 2020 when I had the first opportunity, and I’m grateful that I’ve got the second.
“I really do just have to be “Angerfist” and do what I do to my other opponents. Whenever I face somebody that’s ranked lower than me, I go out there and I’m aggressive because I want to cement my No. 1 ranking.
“Winning the belt would mean absolutely everything. That’s constantly what I keep reminding myself. When you talk about having to dig deep inside the cage and those gritty moments, that’s at the forefront. Winning the BELLATOR world title has eluded me for the past five years and it’s what I want. It would be everything I want in my career. There won’t be a bigger moment than winning the BELLATOR world title.”
JUAN ARCHULETA: NO.1-RANKED BELLATOR BANTAMWEIGHT (VIDEO)
“I think both of us are definitely willing to bring a fight. We’re two fan favourites who come in and fight. We’re definitely putting everything on the line to win this title for our families and win this Grand Prix. I’m expecting the best Raufeon come fight night and he better be expecting the best of me because I’m coming in and I know I’m walking away as the champ.
“Come Saturday night, I am going to be BELLATOR’s new Bantamweight Champion no matter what. They are going to put the belt on me and say, ‘and new BELLATOR Bantamweight Champion.’ That’s going to be that.
“He’s a bully. That’s all I have to say. He’s a guy that I definitely don’t want my kids or any of my family members looking up to because that’s the definition of a bully. In today’s day and age, too many people get away with running their mouth. Just like Mike Tyson had to beat the hell out of someone for pestering him, I’m going to do the same thing to Raufeon on fight night.”
RAUFEON STOTS: NO.3-RANKED BELLATOR BANTAMWEIGHT AND WORLD GRAND PRIX QUARTERFINALIST (VIDEO)
“Juan feels like I’m picking on him or whatever. I saw that he called me a bully or something like that. That’s kind of what I want to do in the fight. I’m literally taking your lunch money at this fight. I’m going to be a bully in the fight. I’m not a bully in real life but that’s kind of how I’m approaching this fight. I feel like Juan Archuleta is mentally weak. He’s a strong individual but I want to take advantage of that, so I’ve been picking at him the whole fight camp. And in the fight, I’m going to continue to pick on him for five rounds.
“The fans are really excited to see me and Juan fight because we possess a lot of the same skills. He brings the action. I bring the action. We both have good cardio. We’re both good wrestlers and strikers. I think it’s a fun fight on paper.”
ILIMA-LEI MACFARLANE NO.3-RANKED BELLATOR POUND FOR POUND FLYWEIGHT (VIDEO)
“This is the best. The previous BELLATOR Hawaii’s were awesome, but there was a lot of pressure. This BELLATOR Hawaii has been so chill. I don’t know if it’s because I’m not the main event or I’m not the champion anymore or maybe I’m just used to the process now and more comfortable with it, but it’s so chill. I could definitely handle fighting at home for the rest of my fight career if I have to if it’s like this.
“If all goes well on Saturday, I would like one more fight before the title shot. I’m actually keeping a very close eye on the Denise Kielholtz and Kana Watanabe fight on the London card. I’m keeping my eye on that fight because I think the winner of that fight and the winner of this fight, if it’s me, are the top contenders. That fight between us would be for the title shot.”
JUSTINE KISH: BELLATOR WOMEN’S FLYWEIGHT (VIDEO)
“In all honesty, I was like ‘how in the world am I getting this opportunity?’ I have three losses in a row. What is happening here? I called people I’m really close to and I realized, oh my god, I think I just became a tomato can. That doesn’t sit well with me. I grew up in combat sports as the star of the show. Things have turned around. This isn’t me. I’m doing everything I can in my training to show the audience the kind of performance I really want to give out there.
“I want to win in a fashion that shows without a doubt that I belong there. Because I know I do. I feel like there’s more pressure on her because she’s coming off a loss and she’s coming off a surgery. I know what those feelings are like. I know what it’s like to return off of a knee surgery. There’s feelings of self-doubt and uncertainty of the unknown.”
KYOJI HORIGUCHI: NO.5-RANKED BANTAMWEIGHT AND FORMER BELLATOR AND RIZIN WORLD CHAMPION (VIDEO)
“I’m very excited for this fight because I’m coming off a loss. I want to pay it back. It’s okay that I lost. It’s a fight. I’m okay. My mentality is the same. Always focused. I want to get back on top. Losses are frustrating, no doubt. I will be back.
“Patchy is a very good fighter. He has good grappling. He has other good advantages, too. He’s tall and long. He’s a good fighter.
“I talk with Danny Sabatello all the time about the tournament. We train together all the time. We joke around a lot about the fact that we’re both in the Grand Prix. I believe that I will see him in the final. I think so. He’s a good fighter, too.”
PATCHY MIX: NO.2-RANKED BELLATOR BANTAMWEIGHT AND WORLD GRAND PRIX QUARTERFINALIST (VIDEO)
“I’m going to display my strengths and do what I do best. I’m going to do what I do every single day and every week. I’m competitive in and out of the gym. I rarely lose rounds. I’m going to just go in there and display what I do well. I’m going to put him on his back. I’m going to pass his guard. I’m going to mount him. I’m going to take his back and I’m going to rear naked choke him in the first round.
“I one hundred percent want the rematch with Juan Archuleta. I want that one back, one thousand percent. One million percent. I’m going to be in the tournament and I’m coming, all gas no breaks. I’m a championship greyhound bus and I’m driving fast. I’m trying to run Horiguchi over and get to the finals and get that one back.”
GOITI YAMAUCHI: BELLATOR WELTERWEIGHT (VIDEO)
LANCE GIBSON JR.: BELLATOR LIGHTWEIGHT (VIDEO)
BELLATOR 278: VELASQUEZ VS. CARMOUCHE MAIN CARD:
Friday, April 22 – live on SHOWTIME
10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT/4 p.m. HST (local)
Flyweight World Title Bout: C-Juliana Velasquez (12-0) vs. #2-Liz Carmouche (16-7)
Bantamweight World Grand Prix Wild Card Bout: Enrique Barzola (17-5-2) vs. Nikita Mikhailov (9-1)
Bantamweight World Grand Prix Wild Card Bout: #9-Jornel Lugo (8-0) vs. Danny Sabatello (11-1)
Light Heavyweight Bout: Christian Edwards (5-1) vs. Grant Neal (6-1)
160-Pound Contract Weight Bout: Manny Muro (12-7) vs. Nate Andrews (16-4)
BELLATOR 278: VELASQUEZ VS. CARMOUCHE PRELIMINARY CARD:
BELLATOR MMA YouTube channel | SHOWTIME Sports YouTube channel | Pluto TV
9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT/3 p.m. HST (local)
Featherweight Bout: Weber Almeida (5-1) vs. Fabricio Franco (8-4, 1 NC)
Welterweight Bout: Dante Schiro (8-3) vs. Scotty Hao (5-3)
Welterweight Bout: Makoa Cooper (1-0) vs. Blake Perry (pro debut)
BELLATOR 279: CYBORG VS. BLENCOWE 2 / ARCHULETA VS. STOTS MAIN CARD:
Saturday, April 23 – live on SHOWTIME
10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT/4:30 p.m. HST (local)
Featherweight World Title Bout: C-Cris “Cyborg” (25-2, 1 NC) vs. #1-Arlene Blencowe (15-8)
Interim Bantamweight World Title Bout: #1-Juan Archuleta (25-3) vs. #3-Raufeon Stots (17-1)
Bantamweight World Grand Prix Opening Round Bout: #2-Patchy Mix (15-1) vs. #5-Kyoji Horiguchi (29-4)
Flyweight Bout: #1-Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (11-1) vs. Justine Kish (7-5)
BELLATOR 279: CYBORG VS. BLENCOWE 2 / ARCHULETA VS. STOTS PRELIMINARY CARD:
BELLATOR MMA YouTube channel | SHOWTIME Sports YouTube channel | Pluto TV
8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT/2:30 p.m. HST (local)
Lightweight Bout: #6-Emmanuel Sanchez (20-7) vs. Yancy Medeiros (15-8, 1 NC)
Featherweight Bout: #9-Justin Gonzalez (12-1) vs. Kai Kamaka III (9-4-1)
Welterweight Bout: Goiti Yamauchi (26-5) vs. Levan Chokheli (11-1)
Lightweight Bout: Keoni Diggs (9-1) vs. Bobby King (11-4)
Featherweight Bout: #6-Janay Harding (6-5) vs. Dayana Silva (9-7)
Flyweight Bout: Sumiko Inaba (3-0) vs. Whittany Pyles (3-4)
Lightweight Bout: Lance Gibson Jr. (5-0) vs. Nainoa Dung (4-2)
120-Pound Contract Weight Bout: Randi Field (2-1) vs. Maraya Miller (1-1)
Bantamweight Bout: Ryan Dela Cruz (12-8) vs. Jordan Winski (11-3)