Bellator 238: Can Budd Spoil The Beginning of Cyborg’s Next Chapter?

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Julia Budd vs. Cris Cyborg, Bellator 238 face-off Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

Julia Budd has an opportunity to validate herself in front of the greater MMA public on Saturday night, but Cris Cyborg is eager to add more gold to her already stellar trophy case at Bellator 238.

It is no secret that the elite level talent outside the UFC are unjustly not given the credit they are due.

Such a fact must be doubly frustrating when competing in the shadow of arguably the greatest female fighter in combat sports history.  Julia “The Jewel” Budd has been perfect since 2012 in a run that has seen her go from a powerful contender in Invicta to claiming championship gold in Bellator.  For those who say there are simply not enough female featherweights in the MMA landscape, Budd has continuously found competition and fought against them on a platform that has worked to find the talent.

Budd has fought the best that Bellator has found to put in front of her, winning gold against former Strikeforce champion Marloes Coenen and defeating up-and-coming talent such as Arlene Blencowe (twice) and Talita Nogueira.  Her only losses came in the early days of her career during the time of the developmental Strikeforce Challengers cards where she encountered future MMA stars Ronda Rousey and Amanda Nunes.  Notably, she also recorded a victory over future UFC champion Germaine de Randamie in that span.

Unfortunately, Budd has operated at the same time as not only the best female featherweight of all time but arguably the greatest female fighter in history.  Cris “Cyborg” Justino put together a fifteen year run of dominance that saw her win championships in Strikeforce, Invicta, and the UFC.  She was part of the first female fight to headline a major promotion.  Finally, she has a resume that is dotted with names like Gina Carano, Marloes Coenen, Holly Holm, and Felicia Spencer.

Now several months removed from her very public departure from the UFC, Cyborg seeks to add to her already legendary career by fighting the best competition that remains available to her.  The fact remains, she can not get that night back from December 29, 2018 where Amanda Nunes ended her run.  A rematch, one expected to last longer than the first fight, would have been a titanic collision that would have cemented both women’s place in history as they looked to prove who was the very best.  Unfortunately, what would have happened is likely to remain a what if… in MMA history.  Justino’s latest contract is a new start and an opportunity to add another major trophy in the sport to her collection.  The only question, after the long and successful career that she has already had, is exactly how many appearances does she still have planned?

Unlike many Cyborg opponents, Budd is a powerful foe who figures to be able to hold her own with the physicality of the Brazilian newcomer.  The two fight with very similar styles, using their well-rounded skillsets and physicality to overwhelm opponents.  Perhaps most surprising is that while Budd is considered to be the newcomer of the two she is actually two years older than Justino.  With so many variables so even, the accuracy and durability of the winner may well be the deciding factors in who comes out on top in the battle between two of the world’s top featherweights.

A Cyborg victory would open the door for the many avenues she would like to pursue, whether it be facing more of the Bellator roster or a possible foray into boxing as she has discussed in the past.  Budd would actually find herself in an interesting situation as a Cyborg victory would been seen as reaching the summit considering she has already dispatched the best that Bellator has to offer.

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