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Bellator 174: Marloes Coenen 'ready for war' with Julia Budd tonight, offers thoughts on UFC champ Germaine de Randamie

Bellator 174: "Coenen vs. Budd" goes down TONIGHT (March 3, 2017) at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla., featuring the inaugural women's Featherweight championship mixed martial arts (MMA) legend Marloes Coenen against the streaking Julia Budd.

Coenen's MMA record spans back to the early 2000's and includes winning the Strikeforce Bantamweight title, but she has never tasted gold in Bellator even though she's always ready for a good fight at any weight. Unfortunately, the same can't be said of her opponents. Coenen was scheduled to face Talita Nogueira at Bellator 163 in Nov. 2016, but her opponent missed weight by such a gross amount that the fight was ultimately canceled. It was the second consecutive time Coenen's opponent had failed to make weight for a bout.

The bar has been set much higher this time, though. Budd has seven straight wins dating back to her days in Invicta before Bellator. Coenen recently spoke with about this historic opportunity later this evening, placing significant thought on the style of fight they will match up.

"Julia's a really tough opponent, I know that. She's very strong especially against the cage with her grappling. I also know she's a point fighter. We both fought Arlene Blencowe for instance, and I finished her in the second round and it took Julia three rounds, so that says something about that. It's a tough fight. I'm ready for the war."

Coenen has been ready for this war for a while, at least as far back as Bellator 155 in Boise last May. Unfortunately, Budd was hurt before their fight could take place, but Coenen had a few dings herself.

"The build up to this fight has been really annoying. With the training camp for Boise, I had a concussion at the beginning of the training camp, but because it was for a title I was like, 'Fuck it! I'm gonna fight anyway' -- and then Julia pulled out. And then next Dufresne didn't make weight for the third time in a row and you know what happened then."

For those who don't know what happened, Dufresne scored an upset victory, but given it was a non-title fight with an opponent well over the 145-pound limit it didn't count against Coenen as a contender for the inaugural title. Speaking of inaugural Featherweight titles, I asked Coenen if she had any thoughts about Holly Holm vs. Germaine de Randamie at UFC 208 a few weeks ago.

"My partner is doing commentary for FOX in the Netherlands, so he gave live commentary (for that fight). I didn't watch it because I want to keep my focus so I'm not watching any fights at the moment. I'm watching -- I don't know -- Game of Thrones and stuff like, but no MMA. However, I heard about what happened and I did see some videos on Instagram of course. It wasn't too good of a fight, and hitting after the bell isn't good, either. It can happen in the heat of the moment, but I think they were two stand up fighters who aren't MMA fighters."

That may seem like a harsh assessment, but she's a 17-year veteran and de Randamie is a fellow Dutch fighter, so she's entitled to make that judgement. She's also not surprised at Holm filing an appeal after the fight ended.

"I'm very curious what they will do. I think Holly was in the right to, I don't know how to put it in English but she filed for something. At least as a fighter you want to do everything what you can do about it. I'm happy for Germaine (but) I don't think she did it on accident to be honest. You have reality and you have theory and in theory you don't hit after the bell, but in the heat of the moment you can do things like that."

Here's an interesting sidenote that ties this all together: Budd and de Randamie faced each other twice before, with Budd getting the win in Strikeforce before moving on to Invicta and Bellator. Either way, it's an exciting time for the Featherweight class given it's being put in the spotlight in both organizations. And Coenen can't wait to showcase it this weekend even though she doesn't expect her fight to go the distance.

"My training camp has gone really really well. I was ahead of schedule a few weeks ago. I've been doing the five times five minute rounds for many times already so I'm confident in that area. I don't want to win on points, so it will not go to the fifth round anyway."

"Confidence" is definitely not something Coenen lacks. She was fighting in women's MMA long before anyone had even heard of Ronda Rousey. Now, after almost a full year away from the sport, she's eager to show why she's the best.

"I have only one thing on my mind and that's the belt, so it doesn't matter if she's Julia or anyone else. I am ready. I will fight, it will be a war, but I will win."

Don't miss Bellator 174 later tonight to see if Coenen can wear the crown in Oklahoma. Complete audio of our interview is embedded in the video player above and complete Bellator MMA coverage can be found right here on later this evening.

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