Former Bellator MMA women’s featherweight champ Julia Budd (14-3) faces Dayana Silva at Bellator 257 on April 16. And when you look at the word “former” in that title, it’s hard not to see a missed opportunity.
Budd’s fight this weekend will once again take place at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT. It’s an excellent home base for Bellator’s “Fight Sphere” and a fantastic venue at that. But through Budd’s entire run as featherweight champ in the promotion, which included three title defenses, Bellator never once took her to Canada to headline a card at home.
The Canadian, however prefers to look on the bright side. “I always think that there are more opportunities, so I think that they will eventually come to Canada for sure,” she told Cageside Press ahead of her return to action this weekend. “There’s a lot of great Canadians on there, but yeah we were always hoping that they would come and we could do something local and have all of my family and friends who are not up to travel down there to watch me fight — but I feel there is still a possibility in the future.”
Budd’s fought some of the best MMA has to offer, and is looking for her second straight win this Friday following the loss of her 145lb title to Cris Cyborg. Given the rogue’s gallery Budd has faced previously, one obvious question is: how good is Cris Cyborg, really?
“She’s a champion, I knew she was a champion. I didn’t underestimate her, we knew who we were getting in with, so it wasn’t that so much,” Budd told us. “I think it was definitely— I’ve been fighting all of my title fights in front of 3,000 people down at the WinStar [Casino and Resort] in Oklahoma and it was a bit of a shock with the size of the stadium and how many people were in there.” Cyborg vs. Budd took place at The Forum in L.A., a much more storied and cavernous venue. Still, Budd wasn’t about the make excuses at the end of the day. “Maybe that was kind of different than what I’ve been used to, but other than that I knew who I was fighting. I knew she was one of the best and I don’t feel like I underestimated that.”
The amount of attention the fight garnered did not surprise the Canadian, despite her having fought mainly on Bellator’s smaller cards prior to that point. “It wasn’t a surprise. It was like, the night of the fight when I came down there, I think it was just a long time coming. Training camp was like six months or something and by the time that the fight came, it was like yeah… it’s hard to explain but I think it was just different fighting in front of, I don’t know 25, 30 thousand people compared to three thousand.” Despite not feeling surprised at the time, Budd did note of the overall experience that “it was something that I definitely learned from and grew from. And hopefully one day we can fight in front of 30 thousand people again.”
As to the biggest takeaway Budd had from the Cyborg fight, she noted that “I feel like there were moments that it was really close, and there were things that I was doing good and bad. There’s things that I messed up on and the little things that I made mistakes on.” Budd feels like, from that, she has been “just evolving from and getting better from [those things], and then we were able to go back and look at the tape and correct certain techniques and certain places that I could’ve done thing differently. It was more so just watching it, going over the tape and evolving from it.”
Now, Budd will welcome Dayana Silva to Bellator, and she’s anticipating a spirited fight. “I’m expecting her to want to go out and have her best night and do her best, being a part of Bellator,” said Budd. “I’ve watched all of her fights, I kind of knew about her before they mentioned that I would be fighting her. She’s good, she’s been in the game a long time and I really respect the team that she comes from.”
Silva is a “tough girl, and I expect her to be going out to do her best in Bellator,” Budd added. “I’m excited to get in there, I’ve been working my butt off and I’ve had an amazing training camp, and I’m just excited to go in there and look to have my best performance as well.”
Julia Budd returns this Friday, April 16 at Bellator 257. The event airs live on Showtime following online prelims available right here on Cageside Press. Be sure to check out Budd’s media day appearance, separate from this interview, below.