Can Julia Budd Keep the Momentum Going for Fighters at Bellator 202?
When Ilima-Lei Macfarlane retained her Flyweight Title at Bellator 201, we knew Bellator was heading in the right direction thanks to their female fighters. Little did she know she'd make a much bigger impact for the company, one that Julia Budd now has to follow up on.
Macfarlane’s main event fight against Alejandra Lara on Paramount Network drew 710,000 viewers, with a peak of 800,000 viewers. The last fight to have those big numbers was Fedor Emelianenko v. Frank Mir at April's Bellator 198 event. While there is a difference between the two fights (and the fighters involved), one thing is for sure: women are proving to be a huge draw for Bellator.
A few week later, there is another woman main eventing a Bellator card. Julia Budd looks to defend her Women's Featherweight Title against Talita Nogueira. Can history repeat itself once again, this time at Bellator 202?
Some would say it doesn’t seem that hard for the 35-year old from British Columbia, Canada. That’s not to say there isn’t any pressure for Julia. When it comes to TV ratings, it is not up to her. Could Bellator have marketed the fight better? Of course, but that is life in the MMA world. Julia's main goal, however, is to get her hand raised by the end of the night. A profitable ratings spike would be the icing on the cake.
Budd’s story is worth the price of admission alone. She started her career going 2-2, both losses being a 19-second loss to Amanda Nunes and 39-second loss to Ronda Rousey, while in Strikeforce. From there, something clicked, and she has won nine in a row between Invicta and Bellator. Speaking to Sporting News’ Steven Muehlhausen, Julia discussed what she did differently to be on the role she is today:
"I basically had to get back up and develop my game better. That loss actually propelled to me getting better with my wrestling, getting my ground game to where it should be and using my strikes better in my standup.”
The training has paid off, as she has won three fights since her last loss via KO and one by submission. Five of her recent wins have come via decision, showing her resiliency and how effective her training regiment is. She will have to use that against a submission specialist in Nogueira (7-0), who has won four bouts in a row via submission. The 32-year old will face her first real test in Budd, as she hasn’t fought since Bellator 182 in 2017. While a little “green” for a title shot in most circles, it is a testament to how impressive the women in Bellator are.
Back to back weeks of women main eventing a card is huge, but shouldn't be rare. If given enough momentum as a result of it, we could see more headliners by women in the future. As Bellator grows, they are always looking for ways to gain a wider audience. Fighters like Macfarlane and Budd are providing a platform unseen before. It is time to get used to it.
Prediction: Budd via TKO (Second Round)