Julia Budd was game, but came under fire in the fourth round against Cris Cyborg at Bellator 238, and it was too much to withstand.
So you want to build a featherweight division. Well, this is how you do it. Bellator has slowly put together a 145lb division for women over the years. Julia Budd became their first, and only, featherweight champion with a win over Marloes Coenen years back. The division was never the most active, but fighters were slowly, steadily brought in, and put to work.
And so when Cris Cyborg exited the UFC and made the jump to Bellator, she had a real weigh class waiting for her. And a champion ready to defend her turf.
Off the opening bell, Cyborg moved right in, throwing power. But Budd reversed position along the fence. The pair traded knees, with Budd, for the moment, in control. Budd broke out the foot stomps, but Cyborg was able to turn and break free, nearly connecting on the exit. In the middle, the Brazilian would land the takedown off a trip. A dangerous spot for Budd, but she powered up and out. In the strength department, the pair looked to be evenly matched. Budd pressed Cyborg up against the cage, changing levels for a takedown that she could not complete.
This time, when the pair broke, Cyborg connected with a knee. Cyborg would later slip off a kick, but as Budd went to the ground, and into her guard, Cyborg threw up a triangle. That gave way to an arm-bar, but Budd escaped and moved to side control. As Cyborg worked her way up but was still clearly grounded, Budd fired a knee that was blatantly illegal. That earned a warning, though Budd may have been going for shoulder.
When the pair got going again, Cyborg connected with a right hand as she caught a leg! Budd went down, off balance more than anything. Cyborg got on top, but the bell would come shortly after.
Cyborg against caught a leg again in the second, then fired off a flurry of heavy punches. She locked her arms around Budd and tried to wrestle her down, but Budd managed to stay standing. Back in the open, Budd fired off a combo. Cyborg then pressed her up against the fence. A dangerous spot to be in, as Cyborg opened up with strikes again. The pair then clinched, battling for position. Cyborg, this time, stayed in control.
When Budd freed herself, Cyborg connected with a leg kick that had Budd stumble in response. Budd then looked to drive Cyborg into the fence, but Cyborg instead was the one in control. Cyborg then ripped off some nasty standing elbows.
In the open again, Budd grabbed for a leg, but had to give up the takedown attempt.
In the third, it was Budd muscling Cyborg up to the fence early. Cyborg reversed. Budd turned them back around. Cyborg reversed again. This spin cycle led the pair to move back to the center of the cage. Budd connected with a jab, but Cyborg moved in with a heavy combo. She then changed levels and landed a takedown. Budd defended with a closed guard, with just under two minutes remaining. Budd tried to land an upkick as Cyborg stood up to re-engage. The Brazilian then got back down, right into side control. From there she moved to mount, raining down a huge onslaught of ground n’ pound before the bell sounded.
Round four had Cris Cyborg unleashing the fury. Her hands were going, lefts and rights upstairs. A body shot sealed the deal. Budd instinctively covered up, and was on her way down. Cris Cyborg had the win!
A tremendous fight, and one hell of a performance from Cyborg, who has now held gold in four major promotions (Strikeforce, Invicta FC, UFC, and Bellator MMA). If there was any lesson to take away from the fight, it’s that Cris Cyborg remains the most fearsome fighter in MMA not named Amanda Nunes.
Official Result: Cris Cyborg def. Julia Budd by TKO (strikes), Round 4, 1:14