In 2010, at the age of 26, one of the pioneers of Australian boxing and mixed martial arts embarked on one of the most amazing journeys in combat sports.
Arlene Blencowe’s interest in combat sports began early in life, at the age of 13. She fell in love with the sweet science and trained in boxing until she became a mother of two.
She always had a passion for the sport, but ruled out competing in order to take on a new role as a mom. She continued to have a passion for the sport, but wanted to be the best mother she could by being home for her children.
When asked about her life outside of combat sports, one of her proudest accomplishments in life is being a soccer mom.
“At the end of the day, nothing I do in my career will surpass the fact I’m a mom,” Blencowe told MMA-Prospects.
In 2010, she made a choice to do something she had desired to do for a long time. She decided to shift her life focus to fighting in hopes to show her kids that it is never too late to achieve your dreams.
Two years after making the decision to begin with a clean slate, she made her boxing debut in a decision victory over then-undefeated Nadine Brown.
After dropping her next fight, Blencowe was tasked with competing against a woman with seven years more experience than her. To top it off, she would be competing against Danielle Smith, who had 13 more professional bouts as a professional, including fights for the vacant WIBA super lightweight and WBF welterweight titles.
In just her third boxing bout as a professional, Blencowe achieved boxing glory, winning the fight in a ten-round unanimous decision.
Blencowe had a few more boxing matches, but that same year, she began her journey toward another goal of hers, a world title in mixed martial arts.
But after a shaky 2-4 start in MMA, one might expect most people to call it quits.
Besides, Blencowe had a family at home and had already achieved one of her goals. At this stage of her career, she was on the ‘wrong side’ of 30 and had already been submitted three times.
With her back against the wall, Blencowe fought back. She strung together three straight victories, earning a shot against 23-fight veteran Adrienna Jenkins in her first MMA fight outside of Australia.
Blencowe finished Jenkins in the first round, justifying her transition into the sport of MMA.
After going 4-2 in the sport following the Jenkins win, she was awarded with her first crack at the Bellator featherweight world championship against then-titlist Julia Budd (14-3).
In a close fight, Budd edged out the decision in a fight where Blencowe feels she had more in the tank.
“The lesson I took from that fight is that even when you think you’ve done enough, you can always do more,” Blencowe recalled. “I should have done more to cement in the judges’ eyes that I won.”
Since that loss, Blencowe has strung together three straight victories, including a victory over UFC veteran Leslie Smith (12-8-1) in November of 2019.
Ten years after deciding to restart her life, Blencowe has the opportunity to check the last box off of her list of career goals by defeating one of the greatest female fighters of all-time, ‘Grand Slam’ featherweight champion Cris Cyborg (22-2), to capture mixed martial arts gold.
“I feel like it’s all falling into place,” said Blencowe of the blockbuster title fight. “The fight itself, being for a world title, being against Cris Cyborg, being that it will cement my legacy in place, it means everything.”
Regardless of the fight’s result, Blencowe’s legacy is secure. In her native Australia, she is a pioneer of women’s boxing and MMA and serves as a role model for fellow up-and-coming athletes. When asked about what message she would give fighters who are following in the footsteps of Australian pioneers like her, the battle-tested Blencowe’s message was one of resilience.
“Stay on the path. I’m [one of the] first ones, but I’ve had a rollercoaster of a career. At one stage I had more losses than I did wins. Stay true to yourself and the goal especially if you love it and have a passion for it,” Blencowe advised. “I’ve made the mistake in the past to focus on the end goal.”
Despite all the ups and downs Blencowe has faced, it will all come full circle against Cris Cyborg at Bellator 249.
Bellator 249 takes place on October 15 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The event will stream on CBS Sports Network as part of Bellator’s new broadcast deal.