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Ex-Bellator Featherweight Champion Julia Budd Becomes Free Agent, In Talks With The PFL, Open To UFC Move

Former undisputed Bellator featherweight champion, Julia ‘The Jewel’ Budd is currently testing free agency after fighting out her contract with the Scott Coker-led promotion. And has confirmed that she had held talks with the PFL (Professional Fighters League), as well as noting her interest in a possible move to the UFC.

Budd, a former undisputed featherweight champion under the Bellator banner, held the championship from March 2017 where she won the inaugural title against Marloes Coenen, before dropping the belt to Cris Cyborg in January of 2020.

The Canadian kickboxing talent last featured at Bellator 257 in April of this year — lodging her second victory since a loss to the decorate Cyborg with a split decision triumph against Dayana Silva. Budd confirmed that the bout came as the last on her deal with the organization and that she had always hoped to test free agency upon the completion of her contractual obligations.

I fought out my contract,” Budd said during an interview with MMA Junkie. “I wanted to do this. I wanted to be a free agent. I haven’t been a free agent in over seven years so it was something that I wanted to do. … At this stage of my career, I’m looking for big fights, money, being valued with the organization, and conversation. I think as being a four-time champion for Bellaotr I deserve that sit down with Scott Coker and seeing what the next step for my career is there, if that’s an opportunity. It’s all of the above.

Budd explained how she currently walks around in the region of 165lbs, and how after some conversations, the prospect of bringing her talents to the PFL is certainly an intriguing one.

When asked about her opinion of two-time Olympic gold medalist, Kayla Harrison, Budd explained how she believed the undefeated judoka would prevail atop her division for this season as well.

I think she’s (Kayla Harrison) good — I’ve been watching her,” Budd said. “I think what she’s been doing has been good and I think she’s going to come out on top again for this division for this 2021 season.”

Whilst nothing is set in stone regarding her fighting future in terms of potential suitors, Budd has explained how a conversation with the UFC would be interesting, considering the former titleholder has a past with current two-weight champion, Amanda Nunes who handed Budd her first professional defeat in the form of a 14-second knockout under the Strikeforce banner back in January 2011.

It would be good to talk to (the UFC), it would be good to talk to PFL and Bellator,” Budd explained. “But I want those top fights. I would love to be fighting for the UFC title, in the PFL tournament. Just the schedule of that is exciting. Then obviously with Bellator, I know for a fact Budd vs. Cyborg 2 would be amazing. If the right opportunity at any of those organizations came along (I would be interested).

A former kickboxer, Budd’s final outing came opposite inaugural UFC featherweight champion, Germaine de Randamie back in 2008 where she suffered a first round knockout defeat. Budd, who established a 10-2 record, defeated former Strikeforce title challenger, Gina Carano with a decision victory back in 2005.

Across her 18-fight professional mixed martial arts career, Budd has bested the likes of the aforenoted, de Randamie, Charmaine Tweet, Marloes Coenen, Arlene Blencowe (x2), Talita Nogueira, Olga Rubin, and Jessica Miele.

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Ross Markey

An MMA fan since 2011 and covering the sport since 2016, Ross Markey has built himself into a top journalist in combat sports.

First catching on to MMA and the UFC in particular back when Brock Lesnar fought Shane Carwin, and even more so when he fought Alistair Overeem back in 2011, Ross really became enchanted with the sport from late-2013-2014 onwards.

He initially began covering MMA in tandem with football back in June 2016 just as he was finishing school. The first real event he covered on his own personal blog was UFC 200 in July of that year during international fight week. His content consisted of previews and event and results recaps. In between jobs, Ross produced content on the side before transitioning to a full-time position back in early 2019.

He initially started creating content on his own blog back in June of 2016, before becoming a staff writer, lead writer, and editor for websites such as MMA Motion, Combat Insiders, Fight Bananas, FightPost, Severe MMA, MMA Power Hour, FightBook MMA, LowKick MMA, and of course, Current MMA.

Back in 2019, Ross received the award Top Journalist of 2019 for FightBook MMA, before he was then promoted to the website's lead writer. Following a six-month period at MMA Power Hour, he was also employed as a junior editor for the company. Throughout his time in the industry, he has interviewed the likes of Colby Covington, Rhys McKee, Pedro Carvalho, Felicia Spencer, Eryk Anders, Jussier Formiga, Danni Neilan, Frans Mlambo, Alex Lohore, Blaine O'Driscoll, Modestas Bukauskas, Ross Houston, Jon Fitch, and Richie Smullen.

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