Bellator 224 results: Leslie Smith returns with majority decision win over Sinead Kavanagh

THACKERVILLE, Okla. – After a two-year layoff, Leslie Smith returned to Bellator on Friday night and may have put herself immediately into title contention.

Smith (11-7-1 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) didn’t have her win handed to her by Irish opponent Sinead Kavanagh (5-4 MMA, 2-4 BMMA), who oftentimes zombie-like never seemed to go away despite Smith being the one pushing the pace throughout. But in the end, Smith took a majority decision win a pair of 29-28 scores and a seemingly odd 28-28- from the judges.

The fight was Smith’s first for Bellator since 2008 and came after a high-profile exit from the UFC.

The women’s featherweight fight was part of the Bellator 224 preliminary card at WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Okla. The prelims streamed on MMA Junkie ahead of a main card on Paramount and DAZN.

Kavanagh opened with a combination, but Smith was in on her in a hurry with a flurry, then a kick to back her up. A minute in, when Smith again got inside, it was a quick barrage with Kavanagh up against the fence. Kavanagh fired back, though Smith’s defense was on point early and she continued to back Kavanagh up. Kavanagh landed some solid counters, but it was Smith setting the tone. With a minute left, Smith landed a hard kick up high, but Kavanagh didn’t go down.

A big flurry from Smith early in the second resulted in Kavanagh still walking through stuff and taking punches, but not going down. Smith rocked Kavanagh with a kick just shy of two minutes into the round, but again the Irishwoman stayed standing. The pair briefly slugged it out with 45 seconds left, then traded kicks. Smith got another big flurry off with 30 ticks left, but still Kavanagh fired back and didn’t hit the canvas.

Smith wasted no time coming forward in the third and again backed Kavanagh up. A minute in, Smith landed a kick to the body and peppered Kavanagh with punches before a brief tie-up. The third was much the same as the first two rounds: Smith continually tracked Kavanagh down and exchanged, but never could put her on the canvas.

For complete coverage of Bellator 224, check out the MMA Results.

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