Cyborg returns: Ex-UFC star Cris Cyborg chases ANOTHER world title as she makes Bellator bow against Julia Budd
After a run which saw her claim UFC gold before hitting the brick wall known as Amanda Nunes, Cris Cyborg chases yet another world title as she makes her Bellator MMA bow on Saturday. Julia Budd, meanwhile, has other ideas.
Budd, the reigning Bellator women's featherweight champion, has been in imperious form over the course of the past nine years. After beginning her mixed martial arts career by facing future UFC champions Ronda Rousey, Germaine de Randamie and Nunes in three of her first four career fights (from which she emerged with a 2-2 record), Budd has since developed her game to become one of the best female fighters on the planet, as well as the featured attraction among Bellator's women's divisions.
The 36-year-old Canadian fighter's deep array of kickboxing techniques have translated to 11 successive wins as she progressed undefeated, first through Invicta Fighting Championships and now Bellator.
Budd was last in action in July 2019 wheN she earned a first-round finish of Brad Pickett protege Olga Rubin, but the task which will await her in the cage on Saturday at the Forum in Inglewood, California, is unlike any of those she has faced throughout her nine-year undefeated stretch.
Cris Cyborg is a legendary figure within women's mixed martial arts. The Brazilian has won championship gold in every organization she has represented and will be looking to add what would be a fourth recognized world title to her collection against Budd.
Much like Budd's run of dominance for the majority of the past decade, Cyborg can also point to her own record-breaking run of victories which extended for an incredible 13 years and 20 fights, only coming to an end a little over a year ago when she was defeated by Amanda Nunes in a stunningly brief bout.Also on rt.com ‘Baddest woman on the planet’: Reaction to Nunes' stunning UFC 232 win over Cyborg
What can best be described as 'differences' with the UFC ultimately led to Cyborg requesting that she be allowed to leave the company for pastures new, where Bellator president Scott Coker was eagerly waiting in the wings with a contract offer and the prospect of handing Cyborg the most high-profile women's fight currently available outside the UFC.
Keys To Victory
Both fighters will prefer to keep this fight on the feet. Budd's kickboxing prowess will give her confidence that she can outlast the savage early attack which constitutes the majority of Cyborg's bouts. However, the fact that only Amanda Nunes has had success against her in the cage for well over a decade implies that Budd - who is the older fighter - will have her work cut out for her.
A glance at both fighters' records tells you that Budd has as many decision wins as she has knockouts (6), while Cyborg's career ledger is stacked in favor of finishes (17 KOs, 4 decisions). This suggests that if Cyborg is to win, she will do so within the first couple of rounds, while Budd will be looking to outlast the initial barrage before settling the fight into a pace she is more comfortable with.
This has been the strategy for countless opponents of Cyborg in the past, but it has shown limited success. The Brazilian fighter will look to immediately take Budd out of her comfort zone by making her fight on the back foot. Budd is a dangerous striker so Cyborg will run the risk of getting caught as she rushes in, but the most likely scenario her is that Cyborg's sheer relentless pace is enough to catch Budd cold as she takes a first or second-round TKO win.