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PhotoCred: MMAWeekly

Cris Lencioni shining bright heading into free agency

This past Friday night, Bellator MMA showcased their second MMA card since returning from the COVID-19 sports break with Bellator 243. Among some of the night’s big winners was one man known as “Sunshine,” Cris Lencioni.

In the second to last fight on the preliminary portion of the card, Lencioni took on a heated rival in AJ Agazarm. The two had been linked to one another since late 2019 in regards to potentially getting in the cage to square off.

While both are talented featherweight prospects at obviously similar points in their careers, it was Agazarm who had the slightly bigger name going into the bout. That being thanks to his many accomplishments in the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, an art where Agazarm holds a black belt.

Prior to exchanging leather, Lencioni knew where Agazarm’s strengths were in his MMA game but admitted that he didn’t realize just how many times that his adversary had placed highly in world tournaments. Thus making the Canby, Oregon resident all the more satisfied with his performance.

Lencioni would earn the unanimous decision over Agazarm as he outstruck the grappler and managed to survive and thrive in multiple positions on the ground with the dangerous submission ace. The win extended Lencioni’s current winning streak in MMA to three and made him 7-2 in his career. Overall when including his recent stretch of grappling contests, “Sunshine” is on a winning streak of eight.

“You can say I was better that night or that moment or whatever, but the fact was; I. Was. Better,” he told MyMMANews, “What I have trained – and I’ve only been in this game for five years – I thought it was six, it’s five, it’s been five years. Five years in this MMA game. I didn’t know Jiu-Jitsu five years ago. And what I’ve done was more than enough to do whatever I wanted to [Agazarm]. So I feel like I know what I’m doing and I really like having my gym. It’s fun to teach.”

In between this fight and the one prior, there was the thought that the Sunshine Athletics founder might be at the end of his Bellator tenure after a solid five-fight run. However, thanks to the cancelation for his would-be bout with Robin Van Roosmalen in October 2019, that wasn’t the case.

The UFC seemed like a potential option and it now presumably is again as Lencioni is officially a free agent after competing on Friday. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s looking to jump ship or burn any bridges with the promotion that’s aided in his growth.

With his stock higher than ever as this current wave of momentum continues to be ridden, “Sunshine” is just looking to keep punching faces and bringing in the dollar signs.

“So this was my last fight, I believe,” Lencioni began, “Bellator’s cool, man. They’re really cool people. I get along with all of them. The vibe is really cool, I’ll do whatever, you know? But I’m not possessive. So if people aren’t feeling me… I’m not everybody’s cup of tea, I get it. But I do think I’m ready to kind of move into that middle playing field of mucho dinero. I hate talking about it like that.

“Everybody’s always like ‘Money, money, money,’ but dude, the reality is we have to get paid for what we’re doing. We’re not socialists here. All right, people aren’t giving me free food. I don’t get to live in my house for free. If I did, then yes, I would just beat the sh*t out of people for you guys. I’d do it every weekend, but that’s not the case. So we’ll see what happens with that. I’m excited for the future.”

With no names necessarily locked into his crosshairs for the next time out, Lencioni does like the idea of becoming the “jerk destroyer” by taking out fighters like Dillon Danis. Or, there’s the opposite route which would see him fight the extremely nice fighters like Chase Hooper.

Ideally, Lencioni would like to return before Thanksgiving for his next time out – no matter who that is against or where it is.

And while he understandably isn’t going to pick any sides preference-wise when it comes to Bellator or the UFC, he does have one place that he’s been longing to go. If his ax kick to Agazarm at Bellator 243 was anything to go off of, he’d probably fit right in, too.

“I’m 100 percent okay with saying I would love to go fight in Japan [for RIZIN], I have no problem with that,” Lencioni expressed, “I don’t think anyone would knock me for wanting to do that. I still want to fight in Japan, man. I want to go freakin’ soccer kick some motherf*cker in the head, dude.”

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