Former Bellator champion Julia (the Jewel) Budd relishes her time at the PFL


Canadian Julia (The Jewel) Budd makes her Professional Fighters League debut on Wednesday when she faces American Kaitlin (The Striking Viking) Young on the last high-profile map of the season.

The 38-year-old from Port Moody, BC, a former Bellator champion, says she moved to the PFL for a new challenge and more consistency in her fight schedule.

Unlike other MMA promotions, the PFL offers fighters a most successful regular season qualifying for the playoffs and ultimately a championship fight. So the fighters can plan their year.

“All my life, whether I fought in Muay Thai or MMA, I always looked forward to having fights and having a goal to achieve. Having this fixed schedule (PFL) is super exciting, ”Budd said in an interview. “And I am welcoming and looking forward to the challenge of this.”

Since Budd only signed with the PFL at the end of September, she will not compete in a full season or contest the title until 2022. But the PFL, who canceled their 2020 season due to the pandemic, presents it on its biggest card of the year.

There are six titles up for grabs on the card at Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida, each winner is expected to receive US $ 1 million with the championship belt.

Two-time Olympic judo champion Kayla Harrison (11-0-0) defends her lightweight title against Taylor Guardado (3-1-0) in the main event. Ray (Bradda Boy) Cooper III (22-8-1) faces Russian Magomed Magomedkerimov (28-5-0) for the welterweight championship in the main co-event.

Brazilian Raush Manfio (14-3-0) meets Tajikistan Loik (Jaguar Paw) Radzhabov (15-3-1) for the lightweight crown, Antonio (Cara de Sapato) Carlos Jr. (2-0-0 with one without competition) faces Norwegian Marthin Hamlet (2-1-0) for the light heavyweight title and Brazilian Bruno Cappelozza (13-5-0) faces Croatian Ante (Walking Trouble) Delija (19-4-0 ) to decide heavyweight honors.

Featherweights Chris (The Long Island Killer) Wade (20-6-0) and Russian Movlid (Killer) Khaybulaev (18-0-1 with a no contest) open the main card.

Also on the card, two-time Olympic boxing champion Claressa (T-Rex) Shields (1-0-0) is fighting her second MMA fight against Abigail (Brave) Montes (2-0-0) in an untitled tilt.

Budd (15-3-0) has won his last two fights and 13 of his last 14 with a title loss to Cris Cyborg at Bellator 258 in January 2020. His only other losses have also been to elite opposition: (Rowdy) Ronda Rousey and Amanda Nunes, both in 2011 in the Strikeforce promotion.

Budd made his Bellator debut in February 2015 and won nine of 10 fights there. Following the loss to Cyborg, which ended an 11-game winning streak, Budd remained the No.1 contender at 145 pounds at Bellator and was looking for another shot for the title.

“I was ready for a change,” she said. “I’ve been with Bellator for seven years. I am grateful for all the opportunities I have had with them. I was able to become world champion and defend this belt.

But Cyborg didn’t seem interested in a rematch.

“So I didn’t want to sit around this year and get more wins under my belt for Bellator and wait and not get that potential title shot. This (switching to PFL) guarantees me a clear direction, a clear trajectory straight up. And as a bonus, I can go there, do what I love, play and fight in the window (Wednesday).

In the PFL, Budd will increase in weight to fight as a lightweight (155 pounds). The promotion does not have a featherweight (145 pounds) division.

Although she has never fought at lightweight in MMA before, she has done so in kickboxing. Budd says it made for a much more comfortable weight reduction this time around.

“Just a few pounds less. It’s pretty good because I’m able to focus 100% on my training… and not lose weight right now. It is definitely an advantage.

Budd’s (Fearless) stepson Lance Gibson Jr. continues to fight under the Bellator flag, going 5-0-0 as a lightweight. Lance Gibson Sr., a veteran of SuperBrawl, Shooto and UFC, trains both.

Young Gibson (5-0-0) just picked up a second round TKO victory over Raymond Pina at Bellator 268 on October 16 in Phoenix.

Like Budd, Young (12-11-1) is another trailblazer in the sport. The 36-year-old from Minnesota just lost a split decision to Brazilian Mariana (Razor) Morais in June. She has won two of her last three and five of her last seven.

In between, they are 25 years old as a pro fighter. Like Budd, Young comes from a kickboxing background.

Budd joins fellow Canadians Rory (Red King) MacDonald, a former Bellator welterweight champion, and Olivier (The Canadian Gangster) Aubin-Mercier in the ranks of the PFL.

Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on October 26, 2021.

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