For the majority of her time spent fighting under the Bellator banner, Julia Budd has been known as a champion. Although she lost that status this past year and is nearing age 40, there’s no intention of slowing down just yet.
Turning 38 in July, the former 145-pound featherweight queen in Budd is just as good as ever and is perhaps even more motivated now that she has to work to reclaim her title. In the time since her reign concluded in January 2020, her fellow lone champion of Bellator at flyweight, Ilima-Lei Macfarlane, also fell from her throne. While Macfarlane was a lot more relieved to not have that championship pressure anymore, Budd can’t say the same.
“No, I’d say it’s a different feeling for me, I didn’t feel that,” Budd told MyMMANews. “I felt differently about it, I just think we’re all different. It was hard for me to lose that fight, I put a lot into it and I really prepared properly and felt like I was going to defend my title successfully. But obviously, rolling with it and learning from it, it was a good experience. You always learn more from your losses than your wins in the first place so it was okay.
“I was happy I got to get back into the cage last August and get a win against Jessy Miele and I’m looking forward to fighting next week.”
To rebound off of what was her only defeat in the last nine years to Cris “Cyborg” Justino, Budd dispatched of Jessy Miele in August. Fighting for three-rounds for the first time since October 2016, it was a change of scenery for “The Jewel” – so was everything else that had begun happening in the world.
The impact of COVID-19 was fully in effect by this point, therefore, leading Budd to an empty arena bout after a raucous occasion that was her preceding Bellator 238 main event in the Los Angeles Forum.
“It was definitely different,” she said of the atmosphere for the Miele fight. “The whole world was in such a different place going from after my fight [with Cyborg], it was not long after that the whole world shifted. Things were getting shut down, it was crazy. So I think that also put into perspective that way more serious stuff is happening and we’re gonna grow from this and get better from this and continue fighting.
“It was a different experience getting into the cage, no crowd, fighting during that time, quarantining and all that. It was two opposite ends of the spectrum from when I fought Cyborg. It was different, but at the same time it was good and I learned a lot during that period as well.”
Unfortunately, there will once again be no crowd when Budd makes her step back into the cage on April 16 at Bellator 257. Admitting that the vibe felt more like sparring the first time around, the Gibson Kickboxing product also found it interesting being able to hear both corners so clearly.
Ultimately, the fans are simply very much missed by the featherweight great.
In what will be just her second fight removed from fighting in front of a packed arena, Budd is now set to perform welcoming duties. Standing in her way on the 16th will be Brazil’s Dayana Silva who makes her promotional debut after putting 11 years into MMA.
The Columbia native in Julia Budd was aware of Silva prior to her signing thanks to the longevity accrued. As always, Budd believes she’s well prepared for the task at hand even if it wasn’t the opponent she’d have expected at this stage.
“I hadn’t seen her on the Bellator roster before they sent me over the contract and told me who I’d be fighting,” Budd said. “But at the same time, it doesn’t really bother me that much. I’m down to fight anyone, I’ve never picked my opponents even as champion. So I’m just excited to get in there and make a statement and go from there.”
If Julia Budd were to retire tomorrow, her legacy would be set in stone as an integral part of 145-pound history. But since that won’t be happening, it’s hard for her to sit back and feel that she has indeed already left her mark – especially being as motivated as she is to continue succeeding.
With retirement nowhere to be found in the mind, Budd still really appreciates the unique experience she’s been able to enjoy as an MMA fighter. Having only fought in three promotions—Strikeforce, Invicta FC, and Bellator—it’s been one hell of a journey, to say the least.
Now that Bellator has found a new home on Showtime, Julia Budd has truly come full circle as the platform is where she began and expects to finish.
“It was like a rollercoaster ride,” She said of her MMA start. “I think I was with Strikeforce [on Showtime] for one year and I fought four fights. It was such a learning experience but I got thrown right in the deep end and it’s kind of the way my life is.
“It was a learning curve but I’m so grateful for those experiences. I had this amazing win against Shana Nelson then I lost to Amanda Nunes, I fought and beat Germaine de Randamie then I lost to Ronda Rousey. All in a year of Strikeforce and that was my first year in Mixed Martial Arts so what stands out the most is I guess my resilience and coming out of that, what I learned, and going forward from that.”