Card recap: Bellator 238 – Cyborg finishes Budd to claim unprecedented fourth world title

CRIS CYBORG became the first fighter to achieve a world championship grand slam, adding the Bellator featherweight belt to her Strikeforce, Invicta, and UFC titles at Bellator 238. In finishing former champion Julia Budd, the Brazilian also matched a feat only previously achieved by Eddie Alvarez, earning world titles in both Bellator and the UFC. Elsewhere on an action-packed main card, Darrion Caldwell handed Adam Borics his first professional loss to set up a featherweight grand prix semi-final bout with A.J. McKee, while Sergio Pettis won out in his promotional debut. Check out all the results from top to bottom, with plenty of recognisable names scattered throughout.


W. FEATHERWEIGHT | Cris Cyborg [C] def. Julia Budd | TKO (Punches) 1:14 Rd 4

Cris Cyborg’s historic win to capture the Bellator women’s featherweight crown made for a perfect promotional debut, but the legendary Brazilian was made to earn a fourth round finish in the headline bout. Early-round flurries were the key to victory for Cyborg, hunting Budd from the get-go and backing her up against the cage with an array of unrelenting strikes. A straight right hand split Budd’s guard and sat her down toward the end of Round 1, but Cyborg’s ground-and-pound was not enough to warrant a finish. To Budd’s credit, she worked to slow the onslaught in each round with some quick clinch work to reverse the position, and had some success in Round 2 as she let some kicks go. While the third round provided more of the same, it was a period defined by the final two minutes where Cyborg was able to maintain a strong top position on the mat to break through Budd’s guard, while also staying heavy to wear her opponent out. Going for the jugular in Round 4 once again, Cyborg finally wilted the American as a heavy barrage of unanswered shots landed up top and to the body, with a nasty liver shot folding Budd as the referee stepped in.

FEATHERWEIGHT | Darrion Caldwell def. Adam Borics | Submission (Rear-naked choke) 2:20 Rd 1

Former Bellator bantamweight champion Darrion Caldwell made quick work of formerly undefeated prospect Adam Borics in the main event slot, submitting the Hungarian in Round 1 of their world featherweight grand prix quarter-final bout. The athletic and unorthodox Caldwell, renowned for his wrestling, looked comfortable on the feet as he led the dance before changing levels to sit Borics down. Deftly slipping to the back and against the fence, Caldwell sunk in a swift rear-naked choke to make the finish look easy, getting the tap ‘just. like. that’ to make good on his promise to dispose of Borics within a round. Caldwell now moves on to face AJ McKee in a mouthwatering semi-final match-up.

FEATHERWEIGHT | Juan Archuleta def. Henry Corrales | Decision (Unanimous) 29-28, 29-28, 29-28

Juan Archuleta grounded out a close unanimous decision win against fellow dangerous featherweight contender, Henry Corrales in their main card feature bout. The respectful and technical battle was a difficult one to judge, with both men patient enough to not be lulled too quickly into the other’s gameplan. Corrales’ style of taking up the centre of the cage and looking to land the big shot was perhaps better on the optics, but Archuleta’s movement and willingness to land on the breaks or with greater volume ultimately put him ahead on the scorecards by two rounds to one. ‘The Spaniard’ landed cleaner blows and managed to avoid most of Corrales’ power shots, working to escape the pocket before both men looked to bring it in the late stages with no clear leader. Coming off a loss, it was a great way for Archuleta to bounce back against a worthy opponent.

BANTAMWEIGHT | Sergio Pettis def. Alfred Khashakyan | Technical Submission (Guillotine choke) 3:00 Rd 1

Sergio Pettis made the ideal start to his Bellator career, submitting fellow newcomer Alfred Khashakyan within a round. Despite being the visibly smaller man, Pettis proved too slick in all departments as he countered Khashakyan’s power punches well on the back of nifty footwork, head movement and superior angling. A sweet counter right hook in the midst of a pocket firefight dropped Khashakyan to spell the beginning of the end, as Pettis jumped on him to land ground-and-pound and sink in a wicked guillotine to put the Glendale Fighting Club product to sleep. Now with consecutive wins in the bank, Pettis will look to go big in his new promotion with the bantamweight title picture remaining uncertain.

WELTERWEIGHT | Raymond Daniels def. Jason King | TKO (Punches) 3:07 Rd 1

Bellator kickboxing champion Raymond Daniels earned another impressive T/KO victory to move to 2-1 in MMA, disposing of 15-fight veteran Jason King in just over three minutes. Daniels immediately showcased his pedigree on the feet, landing a sweetly timed side kick to push King back momentarily, before following up with some more, less fruitful spinning strikes. King got the fight where he wanted it, in the clinch, but had it broken by an errant groin strike which would allow Daniels to get back to work with another trio of kicks to the body to slow King’s forward movement. Two slick one-twos dropped King, who would try to sucker Daniels into following him to the ground, but the flashy striker stayed diligent, keeping the pressure on before getting in a position to finish with ground-and-pound.

W. STRAWWEIGHT | Emilee King def. Ava Knight | Submission (Rear-naked choke) 2:18 Rd 1

Emilee King fared better than her fellow fighting husband in her own Bellator 238 bout, accounting for world boxing champion Ava Knight within a round. Knight got to work on the feet early to land a couple of decent shots, but was duly locked up and dragged down. The move almost worked to the detriment of King, who was swept as Knight transitioned to full mount and attacked an armbar. After surviving the attempt, King moved to the back via side control and worked for the rear-naked choke, eventually sinking it in and yielding a tap.


Highlight performance:

FEATHERWEIGHT | Aaron Pico def. Daniel Carey | KO (punch) | 0:15 Rd 2

Aaron Pico made an emphatic return to the winners list in our highlight performance from the preliminary card, knocking Daniel Carey out early into the second round. The prodigious talent looked terrific, starting the bout by getting his kicking game going to the legs and body while also looking to land big one-twos up top. A key question coming in was when and how Pico would use his wrestling, and it took him just over a minute to hit a perfectly timed double-leg shot on his first attempt with Carey rushing in. The 23-year-old landed some beautiful elbows from top position, posturing well to get power in his shots. Having grounded out most of the round in one position, Pico wasted no time in seeking the finish in Round 2, catching Carey with his forearm at the end of a wild left hook to end the bout in emphatic style.


Catchweight (160 lbs.) | Joshua Jones def. Brandon Bender | Decision (Unanimous) 30-26, 30-27, 29-27

Featherweight | AJ Agazarm def. Adel Altamimi | Submission (Triangle choke) 1:22 Rd 3

Featherweight | Jay Jay Wilson def. Mario Navarro | Submission (Armbar) 2:48 Rd 2

Catchweight (180 lbs.) | Curtis Millender def. Moses Murrietta | Decision (Unanimous) 30-27, 30-26, 30-26

Lightweight | Anthony Taylor def. Chris Avila | Decision (Majority) 28-28, 29-28, 29-28

Welterweight | Miguel Jacob def. David Pacheco | Decision (Unanimous) (30-27, 30-26, 30-27)

Featherweight | Tony Bartovich def. Jarrett Connor | Decision (Unanimous) 29-28, 29-28, 29-28

Lightweight | Ricardo Seixas def. Dominic Clark | TKO (Front kick and punches) 0:34 Rd 1

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