The hectic Bellator schedule rolls on as Bellator 262 is upon us. Bellator 262 goes down Friday, July 16th, from Uncasville, Connecticut, and Scott Coker and his team have put on an action-packed eleven-bout fight card. Headlining the card is women’s flyweight champion Juliana Velasquez, who prepares to put her gold strap on the line against Holland’s Miss Dynamite, Denise Kielholtz. Staying on the topic of Bellator’s female roster, I had the opportunity to catch up with women’s featherweight title challenger Arlene Blencowe. Blencowe is coming off a loss to one of MMA’s most respected names in Cris Cyborg. The Aussie will make the walk to the Bellator sphere for the eleventh time in her career, as she clashes with Brazil’s Dayana Silva.
There are many notable names amongst the action on July 16th. Win streaks are on the line, talented prospects looking to remain undefeated, debutants are seeking to make a name of themselves, and others are hungry to jump back into the winning bracket.
Arlene Blencowe (13-8) will be hoping that she can find her way back into the winner’s bracket with a switch-up of camps. The thirty-eight-year-old made a move to Albuquerque, New Mexico, for this camp to train under Jackson Wink MMA, and going by social media, the trip has fulfilled her expectations.
After a majestic three-fight-win streak that included wins over Amber Leibrock, Amanda Bell, and Leslie Smith, Arlene Blencowe earned herself an opportunity at one of the best on the planet in Bellator featherweight champion Cris Cyborg. Blencowe and Cyborg met on October 15th of last year at Bellator 249. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be for the Australian on the night, suffering a rear-naked-choke loss in round two, but that hasn’t dampened the “Angerfist” spirit and is about she welcomes with open arms again.
Arlene Blencowe made a habit of never finding herself in a rut once coming off a loss. She has always gone on a winning streak following a loss that shows you her genuine belief in her ability to bounce back from defeat, with nine months out of action and training under Jackson Wink. I expect to see an improved Arlene Blencowe with more tools in her arsenal.
Dayana Silva (9-6) arrived on fight fans’ radars when she competed on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2018, which saw the thirty-year-old fall short on the wrong side of a split decision to fellow Brazilian Gisele Moreira.
Silva has been struggling to find any real momentum in her career as of late. The Brazilian hasn’t pieced two consecutive wins together since 2015, and her most recent outing at Bellator 257 didn’t go in her favor, dropping a split decision loss to Julia Budd.
Interview with Arlene Blencowe
It’s been nine months since we last saw you compete in the octagon. How has life been for you inside and outside the octagon since your last outing vs Cris Cyborg?
Arlene Blencowe – “I wouldn’t say that much has changed in the 9mths since my fight with Cyborg. I went back to the drawing board post-fight and had been working hard on becoming a better fighter. That’s something I do every fight, win or lose. I am always trying to learn new things and evolve as a fighter. However, not working my full-time job. I had taken time off work during the Cyborg fight, shortly after I formerly handed in my resignation. Also, I have pursued other avenues of income with mentoring and coaching that is flexible with my training.”
Sticking on the Cris Cyborg fight at Bellator 249, could you sum up the whole experience of fighting for a title, being in there with her in the main event slot, and having a ton of media to do? Did it become overwhelming at some points, and do you think the whole experience hindered your performance on the night somewhat?
Arlene Blencowe – “I enjoyed and welcomed the extra media and exposure that I was given in the lead up to the Cyborg fight. I know that it helped build my profile. Which, I believe will help in the things I have planned in the future and past my fight career. We had a lot of downtime during fight week, too, with quarantine when we first arrived at the casino. So it was nice to have those extra commitments to break up the day.”
As we know, the fight with Cris Cyborg didn’t go your way. Was there anything that surprised you when you stood across the cage from her, anything she did exceptionally well, or potentially things you expected she would be better at? I also presume this is a fight you will be working hard to get back, and how many wins do you think you’ll need to get that opportunity again?
Arlene Blencowe – “I was surprised at how at home I felt in there standing across from her. I had concerns that I would be like a deer in headlights during camp once I stepped into the cage. That fight was something I was pursuing my whole career. It was also a fight that would tick off a lot of career goals. Cyborg seemed to respect my stand-up at the begging of the fight, which surprised me. I lacked the aggressiveness I normally have going into a fight. Instead, I chose to be more tactical over five rounds. I most definitely want to earn my way back to that rematch and make amends for the errors I made.”
Talk to me about your time at Jackson Wink? Going through your social media, you seem to be so happy around the team in Albuquerque. What has your experience been like being surrounded by the best in the world such as Jon Jones, Holly Holm, and many more talented athletes?
Arlene Blencowe – “The thought of being away from home and my family for a full fight camp has always been a hard one. Hence me never committing to such a long time away for training. After my last fight, I realized that I had too many outside commitments and needed to see what it was like to focus fully on a fight camp. So here I am, at the end of an 8-week fight camp at Jackson Wink. I’m about to leave here in less than a week to head over the Bellator 262.”
“I am now saddened at the idea of leaving here (but looking forward to getting home to my family). The team here – Coaches, training partners, and the friendships that I have made have over the past couple of months have been amazing. They made me feel welcomed, and I’ve slotted in as part of the team, as I’ve always been here. I will now be back here for all of my fight camps, as a Jackson Wink fighter.”
Being around these names at Jackson Wink, so many experienced athletes are competing on the biggest stage in the world. Have you had any motivational/inspiring conversations with the names like Jones, Holm, and even Shields to push and motivate you?
Arlene Blencowe – “Conversations with all three and things they’ve said to me during fight camp will be things that I’ll never forget. I also see why all three Holly, Jon, and Claressa are all World Champions. Blessed to be here with them.”
For most of your career, when you’ve faced a loss, you’ve then bounced back with a win-streak and finished your opponents. How important do you think it is for the younger athletes coming up in the sport not to put their heads down after a loss and altogether doubt themselves? It’s something you’ve seemed to master over your 21-fight career. Where does that will come from to bounce back?
Arlene Blencowe – “I’ve copped losses in life, hard times, and struggles. But what you do is bounce back, you get back up, and you keep fighting. At the end of the day, this is the fight game. There’s always a winner, and there’s always a loser (for the most part). You hope to hell that you’re the one that has their hand raised at the end of the night. But if it isn’t, then you go back, and you work until it gets raised. It becomes an addiction. There is no better feeling than having your hand raised.”
What were your initial thoughts on the match-up against Dayana Silva when it was offered to you? Do you feel this is a match-up that favors you? if so, how?
Arlene Blencowe – “Initial thoughts were – yes, let’s go! That’s my thoughts whenever I receive that message from my manager. I respect my opponent. She’s new to the promotion and has come right in to take on the #1 and #2 in the division. Any opponent favors me. I am ready to get in there and go to work against anyone.”
When you look at this fight on paper, cardio and conditioning could play a decisive factor in this bout. It’s common knowledge that you’re a finisher that doesn’t like leaving it in the judge’s hands. However, Silva has only been finished once in her career, and that was her first pro-bout. Silva isn’t reasonably considered a fighter who has the killer instinct factor in her game to finish her opponents. Off-course for every fight, you’re going to be fully fit and prepared. But, would you say this is an accurate assessment, and in camp has the strength and conditioning and cardio been something you’ve worked on maybe more than usual to ensure you have plenty of gas in the tank to go the distance?
Arlene Blencowe – “I work on everything in every fight camp. Fitness is not something I am ever concerned with going into a fight. I’m hoping it can be a short night in the office. I am willing and ready to go the distance if need be.”
Lastly, can I have an official fight prediction from you? How do you see this fight playing out when you visualize it?
Arlene Blencowe – “My hand will be raised on July 16th.”
Featured Image Credits to: Bellator MMA