The main event of Bellator 238 features possibly one of the more compelling title bouts the promotion has ever made. Julia Budd, WMMA veteran and Bellator legend, and Cris Cyborg, considered to be one of the GOATs of WMMA, face off for the Bellator featherweight title in Inglewood in a bout that could determine much more than just the current featherweight champion.
A post shared by Julia "The Jewel" Budd (@championjewel) on Dec 28, 2019 at 6:35pm PST
Bellator’s featherweight queen hasn’t tasted defeat inside a cage since 2011 when she lost to Ronda Rousey in Strikeforce. A striker with a well-rounded kickboxing game rooted in Muay Thai, Budd has been one of the most underrated female fighters in the history of the sport. As she’s never fought in the UFC, she tends to be overlooked as one of the greatest women to grace the cage. Since her loss to Rousey, Budd has won an insane 11 consecutive bouts, with high profile WMMA pioneers Charmaine Tweet and Marloes Coenen on that list. It’s also worth noting that before her loss to Rousey, Budd defeated former UFC champion Germaine de Randamie, while also beating the legendary Gina Carano in Muay Thai competition back in 2005.
Last Bout: Budd defeated Olga Rubinby first-round TKO at Bellator 224 in July of 2019, to defend her title for the third time.
Thank you to the members of the media who attended my #Bellator238 open workout @criscyborggym 🌮 🎶 🥊 @bellatormma @richiequan 📸 @askmyghost 🇧🇷🇧🇷🇧🇷🇧🇷🇧🇷🇧🇷🇧🇷 Obrigado aos membros da mídia que participaram do meu treino aberto # Bellator238 @criscyborggym 🌮🎶🥊 @bellatormma 📸 @askmyghost
A post shared by ®️Cristiane Justino (@criscyborg) on Jan 13, 2020 at 2:22pm PST
No conversation regarding the greatest women’s mixed martial artists of all-time can’t include Cristiane Justino, better known as “Cyborg.” Losing her first career fight, Cyborg followed it up by winning 20 consecutive bouts. She won featherweight titles across three promotions, winning the Strikeforce title by defeating Gina Carano in August of 2009, winning the Invicta title by defeating Marloes Coenen in July of 2013, and winning the UFC title by defeating Tonya Evinger at UFC 214 in July of 2017. Cyborg was considered by many to be the greatest women’s fighter of all-time before being knocked out by Amanda Nunes at UFC 232 in December of 2018. Cyborg has always had a “fear factor” about her, the idea that no woman could stand with her, and every fight was going to end in a finish for her highlight reel. Perhaps except for Nunes, Cyborg holds more raw knockout power than any other woman in MMA history. Like Budd, Cyborg’s base is in Muay Thai, although unlike Budd- who’s more likely to adjust her game if in an appropriate scenario- Cyborg very rarely deviates from her Muay Thai attack, with her best weapons undoubtedly being her power from distance and knees in the clinch.
Last Bout: Cyborg defeated Felicia Spencer by unanimous decision at UFC 240, in July of 2019.
Photo by Amanda Sanchez of Unknown MMA
I think this fight is much closer than the odds or fandom would seem to indicate. Cyborg currently sits at a -400, with Budd coming back at +310. To give any point of reference, Conor McGregor was at -335, and Donald Cerrone came back at +250 for their fight at UFC 246, and for my money, this bout is far more competitive. For starters, as mentioned above, Budd hasn’t lost in almost a decade, and her only career losses have been to Rousey and Nunes. Cyborg, meanwhile, has looked unstoppable throughout her entire career, save for one bout with Amanda Nunes. Cyborg will have the power advantage, while Budd will very likely have the overall skill set advantage.
While compelling as the main event, as well as status as perhaps the greatest women’s featherweight of all-time, my pick would have to go in the direction of the more seasoned veteran. But for all of my past criticisms, I must admit, Bellator really outdid themselves on this one. This may be the most excited I’ve ever been for a Bellator main event.
Pick: Cyborg, 3rd Round KO/TKO
Follow Johann on Twitter: @thejohanncastro