MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of Bellator 238, a five-round women’s featherweight title bout between champion Julia Budd and challenger Cris Cyborg. The event takes place on Saturday, January 25 at The Forum in Inglewood, California.
Cris Cyborg (-445)
Cyborg (21-2, 1 NC) is the former UFC, Strikeforce and Invicta FC featherweight champion. The 34-year-old Brazilian has been one of the most dominant fighters in the sport regardless of gender over the last 15 years. After losing her professional MMA debut back in 2005, Cyborg went 13 years without a loss before losing to Amanda Nunes in 2018. During that stretch, Cyborg had wins over the likes of Holly Holm, Gina Carano, Marloes Coenen, and Felicia Spencer. Cyborg is, quite simply, the most dominant female fighter the sport has ever seen. On the feet, she has knockout power unlike any other woman in MMA history as her 17 career knockout wins suggest. Her wrestling is also very strong, as she’s able to throw her opponents to the mat and hold them there. She has also proven many times she can go a strong 25 minutes. The loss to Nunes and disagreements of a rematch hurt Cyborg’s stock with the UFC and that’s the only reason she was released, otherwise, she would still be dominant in the UFC. But she now has the opportunity to come to Bellator and become the first four-promotion champion in MMA history. The oddsmakers suggest Cyborg should be heavily favored to win, so now let’s see how she performs here against the underrated Budd.
Julia Budd (+335)
Budd (13-2) is the Bellator women’s featherweight champion. The 36-year-old Canadian has not lost in eight years and is currently riding an 11-fight win streak including an undefeated mark of 7-0 in Bellator. Some of Budd’s notable wins include Germaine de Randamie, Marloes Coenen and Olga Rubin, with his two career losses coming against Amanda Nunes and Ronda Rousey. Budd is a very physically strong fighter. She has strong wrestling and is able to get the majority of her opponents to the mat and smash them on the ground with her punches and elbows. On the feet her striking is improving as well and she is able to hurt and finish opponents there. Budd isn’t getting much respect here from the oddsmakers because she’s facing Cyborg, but if she was fighting anyone else in Bellator she would be favored. If she can get the job done here against Cyborg and defend the belt, she will gain a ton of respect from those in the MMA community.
Fight Breakdown: Aside from Amanda Nunes, these are the best two women’s featherweights in the sport, so this should really be a great fight. Cyborg has been nothing but dominant, running through everyone she’s faced over the last 15 years aside from Nunes. Budd, too, has been nothing but dominant, albeit over slightly lesser competition. I really like Budd and would pick her over the majority of other female featherweights, but it’s hard to pick against Cyborg unless she’s fighting Nunes. She’s just been so dominant and destructive that it’s nearly impossible to go against her. In this fight, I just feel like Cyborg is going to be the more effective striker on the feet and more powerful. Both women have only lost by knockout once, and both of those losses came against Nunes. I think Cyborg is going to make that two losses for Budd. I believe she will be able to hurt Budd with punches and kicks and eventually put her away with a TKO win to become the new Bellator women’s featherweight champion. I don’t love the odds, but I favor Cyborg to win.
Prediction: Cris Cyborg via TKO