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Julia Budd
(12-2) is Bellator
MMA
’s reigning featherweight champion. For her next bout and
third title defense, the 36-year-old Canadian will return from a
year-long layoff to headline Bellator
224
opposite Olga Rubin.
The event will take place at the WinStar World Casino in
Thackerville, Oklahoma, on July 12.

As we approach fight day, here are five moments that have come to
define the career of the pugilist they call “The Jewel.”

FIRST SETBACK … In only her second MMA appearance,
then 1-0 prospect Budd faced future UFC double champ Amanda
Nunes
at Strikeforce Challengers: Woodley vs. Saffiedine, in
Jan. 2011. Having transitioned to the sport from Muay Thai, it was
expected that Budd would give the heavy-handed Brazilian all she
could handle on the feet. But that is not what transpired. The
clash had just gotten underway when Nunes dropped the Canadian with
a stiff left jab. After following her to the mat, Nunes dished out
hammer fists from side control until the referee stepped in, a mere
14 seconds after the bell had sounded.

GETTING BACK ON THE HORSE … For her next outing,
Budd met fellow Muay Thai convert and future UFC featherweight
queen Germaine
de Randamie
at Strikeforce Challengers: Fodor vs. Terry, in
June 2011. The two had met before under Muay Thai rules three years
earlier. On that occasion, the Dutch fighter had emerged
victorious, but it was to be a different outcome the second time
around. Budd surprised her rival by utilizing her improved
wrestling to secure takedowns. Once on the mat, she used stifling
top control for which de Randamie had no response. After 15 minutes
of action, the judges all sided with Budd.

LOSING TO A LENGEND … At Strikeforce Challengers:
Britt vs. Sayers, in Nov. 2011, Budd had her fourth professional
contest versus future MMA pioneer and former Olympic judoka
Ronda
Rousey
. After landing a takedown, Rousey set up her trademark
armbar submission from on top. Budd tried valiantly to roll out of
the hold, but it was too tight and she was left with no option but
to concede defeat 39 seconds into the first round. This setback
marks the last occasion that The Jewel experienced defeat.

WINNING GOLD … In Mar. 2017, at Bellator 174,
Budd, who was on a seven-fight winning streak, challenged Marloes
Coenen
for the inaugural Bellator women’s featherweight
championship. In this title match, Budd utilized her much improved
grappling skills to gain the upper hand on the mat against her more
experienced foe. The Canadian got the finish in the fourth frame
following a sustained barrage of ground and pound from the mount,
which culminated in the referee calling a halt to the beatdown at
the 2:42 mark. Budd was a champion at last.

DEFENDING HER CROWN … In her last outing, which
took place in July of last year at Bellator 202, Budd defended her
featherweight strap for the second time versus Brazilian grappling
phenom Talita
Nogueira
. From the get-go, Budd dominated the proceedings
against the BJJ black belt. The Canadian proved particularly adept
at combining her striking with takedowns. In round three, her
exhausted adversary was felled with an overhand right. Once
Nogueira hit the mat, Budd immediately swarmed on the prone
Brazilian with a volley of left hands, securing a TKO with 53
seconds remaining in the third.

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