Julia Budd has reached the top of the mountain. The question now becomes whether or not the 34-year-old can stay there.
Budd will defend the Bellator MMA women’s featherweight championship for the first time when she faces Arlene Blencowe in the Bellator 189 headliner on Friday at the Winstar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma. The two women met once previously in 2016, with Budd walking away on the right side of a majority decision. On an eight-fight winning streak that dates back more than five years, the Canadian kickboxer last competed at Bellator 174 on March 3, when she retired Marloes Coenen on a fourth-round technical knockout and captured the promotion’s inaugural women’s featherweight crown. Other victories over Gabrielle Holloway, Charmaine Tweet and onetime Ultimate Fighting Championship titleholder Germaine de Randamie bolster Budd’s resume.
In advance of Budd’s five-round rematch with Blencowe, here are five things you might not know about her:
1. Her losses have come against MMA royalty.
Budd has lost to only two women: Ronda Rousey and Amanda Nunes, both of whom went on to become champions in the UFC. Those two defeats encompassed a grand total of 53 combined seconds. Nunes scored a 14-second knockout against Budd at a Strikeforce Challengers event on Jan. 7, 2011 and Rousey executed a 39-second submission on her 10 months later. Budd has not tasted defeat since.
2. Odds were stacked against her from the start.
Budd was born in Roberts Creek, British Columbia, an 8.1-square-mile community of less than 2,000 people on the western edge of Canada.
3. She has ties to the pre-Zuffa Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Budd trains under husband Lance Gibson Sr., who went 1-1 in two UFC appearances. He knocked out Jermaine Andre at UFC 24 in March 2000 and succumbed to punches from Evan Tanner at UFC 29 the following December.
4. She has enjoyed combat sports success outside of mixed martial arts.
Budd owns a 10-2 record in professional muay Thai and remains the only woman to defeat Gina Carano in the discipline, having taken a decision from her in 2005. The fight took place a little less than two years before Carano debuted in EliteXC, a promotion with which she became the face of women’s MMA.
5. She put a safety net in place.
Careful not to put all her eggs in one basket, Budd graduated from the University of British Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in human kinetics.