The opponents Julia Budd faced early in her career read like a "Who's Who" of women's mixed martial arts (MMA) standouts today -- Ronda Rousey, Germaine De Randamie and Amanda Nunes -- all before she compiled four fights as a professional.
Having to face such a Murderer's Row of talent so soon and so fast, it's not surprising that Budd went 2-2 to start out, but that experience shaped her future, where she reeled off four straight wins with three finishes fighting for Invicta FC.
Budd, who will make her Bellator MMA debut against Gabrielle Holloway at Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif., next weekend (Fri., Feb. 13, 2015), is also a world class Muay Thai fighter. In fact, Budd is the only woman to defeat "Conviction" Gina Carano in her Muay Thai career.
It's little wonder that Bellator MMA signed the talented fighter, who was supposed to maker her promotional debut against Talita Nogueira before the undefeated Brazilian was forced to withdraw because of an injury. Budd spoke to MMAmania.com about the challenge ahead and how she made the decision to sign with Bellator in Aug. 2014.
"Scott Coker was a huge part of our decision because we'd worked with him in Strikeforce. We knew that he's committed to actually having the females fight -- (not) sign a contract and sit in the stands for a year. As soon as we found out that he was in charge we're like, 'Yeah this is definitely right.'"
Being on the main card for Spike TV puts Budd in the position to have the biggest live audience yet for one of her fights, an opportunity for which Budd has been waiting her entire career.
"I just think that it's exciting that people can watch me easier, y'know. I'm telling people 'It's actually live! You don't have to tune in on your computers.' That's the exciting part -- is that my family on the sunshine coast in Canada can just turn on their TV and watch me."
When it comes to watching Budd on your computer, many people by now have seen the clip of Ronda Rousey violently submitting her in Strikeforce. Looking back on that experience gives Budd a unique perspective on seeing Cat Zingano face Rousey in the main event of UFC 184.
"I can't see it ending ... well I can see it ending by armbar but I see it going longer and Cat definitely being able to use her stand-up to keep Ronda (away). It's hard to vote against Ronda because she's been so dominant, but I think that Cat stands a good chance -- the best chance of any of the opponents she's faced."
Budd was originally scheduled to face Talita Nogueira on February 13th, and proclaimed herself well prepared for anything Nogueira had to offer in the fight.
"I've studied all of her jiu-jitsu matches, and what she does, and what she does really well -- what her strengths and what her weaknesses are. I plan on showing where I'm strongest and beating her where she's the weakest. That's what we really focused on for this camp. You know what it's not really worrying about what her strengths are but being prepared for them and then executing our game plan."
You can watch her execute that game plan on Spike TV or in person at Save Mart Center in Fresno next Friday against Holloway. The complete audio of our interview with Budd is below. And MMAMania.com will bring you complete coverage of Bellator 133 from the under card "Prelims" right on through the main event, Alexander Shlemenko vs. Melvin Manhoef.
See you then!