Bellator 224: “Budd vs. Rubin” aired last night (Fri., July 22, 2019) on Paramount Network from WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Oklahoma. Riding a ten fight win streak into Oklahoma, Julia Budd (12-2) looked to continue her dominance against a rising Featherweight challenger in Olga Rubin (6-0).
As good as Rubin had looked in her fights leading up to tonight, she was still no match for “The Jewel” as she only seems to be peaking now despite having been champion since 2017. Rubin couldn’t find the range to land any significant strikes, hell any strikes, while Budd pummeled her at range with high and low kicks. One perfectly placed right kick to the body took all the win out of Rubin’s sails and Budd swarmed for a Round 1 stoppage at 2:14.
Budd had a few interesting ideas for who to fight next when she talked to John McCarthy.
“I knew it was close to being over so I just kept attacking and yeah it was awesome. I feel great, I feel like I’ve come into my own, and yeah I just had to start loving myself more. I’m only going up from here. I think Leslie (Smith) did great tonight, I’m super excited she came over to Bellator, and then I’d love to fight in Rizin against a big lady named Gabi Garcia.”
In the co-main Middleweight stars looked to impress as former champion Rafael Carvalho (15-3) took on the always dangerous striker Chidi “Bang Bang” Njokuani (18-6, 1 NC). Carvalho had a power advantage in the first frame, muscling Njokuani around the cage and scoring with elbows and uppercuts in clinch on the fence, easily taking a 10-9 round.
Njokuani bounced back by working from distance and punishing Carvalho with head kicks. Even the ones that were checked couldn’t have felt good slamming into his arm, and when those weren’t finding a home, he threw effective kicks to the body. Carvalho tried a takedown to neutralize the striking but Kerry Hatley stood them up. 10-9 Njokuani.
A grueling third round edged toward Carvalho as he once again scored a takedown and this time avoided being stood up by backing up and resetting to come over the top with ground and pound. Njokuani went for a kimura in a scramble, wound up on top with short time left as a result, but the round was still mostly Carvalho’s. Would the judges agree?
Carvalho earned the unanimous 29-28 X3 decision. No post-fight interview followed.
Flyweights shared the stage in Thackerville as well. The undefeated Juliana Velasquez (8-0) hoped to punch a ticket to title contention against “Warhorse” Kristina Williams (3-1). Velasquez ate up the range that Williams likes to kick box from and repeatedly tagged her with left hands, turning her face red and the scorecard 10-9 in her favor.
Velasquez striking advantage piled up too high for Williams to climb back into the fight in round two. After being busted open and hurt repeatedly with left hands to the face, she started to turn away and not defend as Velasquez came forward pouring on damage against the fence. Jacob Montalvo saved Williams at 4:03 giving Velasquez the win via TKO.
John McCarthy stepped into the cage with a translator in tow for an interview.
“Good evening Oklahoma. It’s my second time fighting here. I felt really good standing up and I had to put her away. This fight with (Macfarlane) should have happened already, but I’m patient and I’m ready for the next bout.”
Former Welterweight Grand Prix competitor Ed Ruth (7-1) looked to rebound from his defeat against long-time Japanese veteran Kiichi Kunimoto (20-7-2). Ruth took control early by smacking Kunimoto with powerful left hands, then eventually won a clinch against the fence to score a takedown. Kunimoto sat up against the fence and got back to his feet but got smashed back to the ground with a right jab, giving Ed Ruth a clear 10-9 Round 1.
Ruth picked apart Kunimoto in round two, softening him up with repeated left jabs, hurting him badly with a knee, then pouring it on with ground and pound until referee Todd Anderson was forced to wave it off at 3:49 of the second round.
Ruth spoke to “Big” John McCarthy after the result was made official.
“I felt it but I was able to shrug it off. When he was coming in I saw his head coming down, I felt my knee clip something (on Kunimoto).”
To fill time on the live broadcast “Oklahoma’s own” 185 lbs. champion Rafael Lovato Jr. stepped into the cage to speak with Mike Goldberg about his big win in London.
“For sure. The fight just worked out to be epic — two rounds to two. The back and forth came down to the fifth round, in London, everybody cheering for him. We did it. Oklahoma did it. A lot of heart, toughness, a lifetime of work to get there, and just digging deep you know? I’ve been getting beat up my whole life, training since I was little, and I’ve just figured out that I’m pretty good at getting beat up and still going forward. That’s what it’s all about.”
For complete Bellator 224 results and coverage click here.