Following the loss of her featherweight title to Cris Cyborg earlier this year, Julia Budd has had plenty of time to reflect and regroup. At Bellator 244 on Friday, she finally got the chance to return to the cage, and start the road back to the title. First stop, Jessy Miele, who upset Talita Nogueira last year.
Ahead of the fight Miele missed weight, making this one a catchweight affair. Not that Budd appeared to need any extra motivation, but it was there, as was a percentage of Miele’s purse.
The fight opened up with the ex-champ holding the center of the cage. Miele circled, as Budd employed kicks and single strikes for the most part. Budd, not surprisingly, had a strength advantage, and just ahead of the final minute, closed the distance off a combo and drove Miele into the cage. She’d get the fight to the ground, putting Miele on her back with just seconds left.
The second round saw Miele find some success on the feet, landing a left hand and backing Budd up. This round was far closer than the first, with Miele gaining a bit of confidence. Budd regained control of the round, however. She would end up taking Miele back to the cage again, getting double underhooks, and sweeping Miele’s leg out from under her to finish the takedown. From half guard, Budd worked in a few punches, but as in the first, she didn’t have much time to work.
Budd gave herself far more time to make something happen in the third. She put Miele on her back with four full minutes remaining. The Canadian worked for an arm-triangle choke, struggling to free her leg and step over her opponent to finish. Heavy shots to Miele’s body landed when Budd couldn’t pull off the submission; she then moved to mount. Miele survived, but there was no question she had lost the war.
Where does this leave Julia Budd? Featherweight has never been the deepest of divisions. For the sake of Cyborg’s legacy and keeping things fresh, there are likely other names ahead of her. Notably Cat Zingano, should she pick up a win in her debut this month. But Budd is certainly on the right path.
Official Result: Julia Budd def. Jessy Miele by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)