After his first round submission victory over Adil Benjilany at Bellator 221, Lencioni believes he has solidified himself as a top featherweight. “I went out there and put a whooping on him, made him look like an amateur,” said Lencioni. The Oregon prospect defeated a game opponent with a 5-2 record who often never made it out of the first round.
He has a larger than life personality, but if you ask his family, they would tell you Lencioni hasn’t changed a bit. It was time for him to die his hair to embrace his inner self. Since Cris was ferociously bullied as a kid, he felt he needed to hide who he was. Now that he’s at this stage in his career, he no longer cares what people think. He’s a guy who loves to fight and has all the confidence needed to be a top featherweight in the sport.
Oh, and get used to his light hair. It will be white for the next fight.
Cris is the type of guy to fight you, then find you after to see if you want to grab pizza. He’s also the type of guy to get back in the gym a week after fighting. Hoping to land another fight in July or August, Lencioni feels he deserves a spot in the Featherweight Grand Prix happening this fall. If the win over Benjilany wasn’t enough, he’s willing to take another fight to prove his case. “Let me show you guys [Bellator] I’m worth it. I’m there. I’m a contender and I should be considered,” said Lencioni. “I’d be the dark horse in that b*tch.”
Cris has options now. And if the first time you’ve ever watched him fight was at Bellator 221, then you know he’s a star. Lencioni wants to get back in the cage and fight three more times this year. He has a hitlist of opponents too: James Gallagher and Ty-wan Claxton.
“I’m a serious contender in the featherweight division and I won’t be going anywhere.”
A catchweight bout is intriguing with the loudmouth Irishman, Gallagher. But Cris feels he needs to eventually fight at 145-pounds. “He started at featherweight,” said Lencioni. “So he needs to fight at featherweight.” This is a matchup that he has been campaigning for since last year. However, a second fight with Claxton also has potential.
Before their first scrap, Claxton had signed onto the same management group as Lencioni. This is the same group that would screw him over, leading up to his first professional MMA loss. Needless to say, Cris wants the rematch in first round of the featherweight tournament and wants it as soon as possible.
The first homegrown fighter for coach Fabiano Scherner, Lencioni ultimately wants the belt, then wants to tell everyone to f*ck off. Ready to fight whoever is placed in front of him, Cris hopes for a new contract with Bellator after his next two bouts.
It has been a long road with a few bumps, but one thing is for sure, Lencioni is back where he belongs: getting his hand raised inside a MMA cage after putting on a show.
Listen to our full interview with Cris Lencioni on The Scrap’s official SoundCloud: