To some extent, a layoff forced by the coronavirus might have been beneficial to Julia Budd, it was suggested during the Bellator 244 media day.
Budd’s return this Friday, against Jessy Miele, is her first fight back since losing her featherweight title to Cris Cyborg earlier this year. The pandemic at least gave her time to regroup, in theory. But with a strong support system around her, Budd kept her training up from the outset.
“It’s been interesting times. It hasn’t slowed me down in my training,” Budd told media outlets Wednesday. “With the world, it’s been interesting, but my training partner is Lance Gibson Jr. [her stepson], my coach is my husband. We have a small bubble that we’re already together in all the time anyway, so it wasn’t that difficult to navigate it.”
Family was key to bouncing back after an emotionally devastating loss. Including husband Lance Sr., her stepson, and the community at large.
“Very important. The people around me picked me up,” she told Cageside Press. “My community picked me up. That night when I came out of the arena, there was 60, 70 people in a big circle giving me big hugs. Right away, it made it feel, I don’t know— it was special. Even though I lost, it still felt great to have the people that love me around me.”
Budd went on to add that “I think it’s important for athletes, to have people around them that believe in them, and have their back, regardless of wins or losses.”
Budd heads to Uncasville, CT this weekend from British Columbia, Canada. As a whole, the Great White North has been hit far less by the coronavirus pandemic than the U.S.
The former champ had no hesitation about fighting down south, however. “No, I knew Bellator was doing an amazing job. We got sent packets of what the protocols were going to be, and it just felt like, even since I’ve been here, just so professional,” she stated. “I feel safe here. They’re doing a really amazing job. I’m confident. I’d come back and fight here during this time over and over again, if we have to.”
The question now is, what will it take for Budd to get back to the title picture. A win? Two?
“I don’t make those calls,” she told us. “I’ve got to go out on Friday and make a statement on who I am and why I belong right back in there.”
Bellator 244 takes place this Friday, August 21 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT. The main card airs live on Paramount Network and DAZN.