Despite 'flaky' 145-pound peers, Bellator champ Julia Budd isn't worried about lack of contenders

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Filed under: Bellator, News, Videos

THACKERVILLE, Okla. – Bellator champion Julia Budd is confident there will be suitable competition for her 145-pound throne, but she’s not entirely happy with the state of her “flaky” division.

Budd (11-2 MMA, 5-0 BMMA) defended her title for the first time on Friday, when she took a controversial split decision over Arlene Blencowe (10-7 MMA, 3-3 BMMA) in Bellator 189’s headliner. It was a close call – certainly closer than she’d like – but ultimately it was enough to ensure Budd got to keep the belt she’d earned with a knockout of Marloes Coenen back in March.

“I was nervous for this one,” Budd told MMAjunkie after the bout, which aired on Spike from World Casino & Resort in Thackerville, Okla. “Because I see so many people become champion and lose their belt right away.

“And there was sort of this feeling of, ‘I really want to bring this belt home and finish off the year as champion, as I started the year.’”

With that one out of the way, Budd is now looking for a relatively quick turnaround. The champ has one fight left on her Bellator contract, which she’s hoping to do in March or April. After kicking off the year “with a great win,” Budd said, the plan is to re-sign.

Whom she’ll get to meet then, though, is a bit of a mystery. And it could be a tough one to crack given a division that doesn’t offer that many possibilities. But Budd, who’d already met (and beat) Blencowe before, isn’t particularly worried about that.

“I know there there are a couple – if (Talita Nogueira) gets her knee fixed up and figures that out, then she’s definitely up there,” Budd said. “There’s also some new 145-ers that are coming up. I was kind of hoping for a new person to study and fight, but I’m glad I got that out of the way.”

But she does have her concerns as to how invested her peers are in their own Bellator careers.

“It’s kind of embarrassing for the division when people miss weight by 10 pounds,” Budd said. “This is my profession, and this is what I treat as my job. It’s what I come to do. I take it very seriously, and I just feel like so many girls in this division are just kind of flaky. Missing weight by 10 pounds, and then some people went off on not having or having kids.

“It’s fine. But maybe wait until after – don’t get signed with Bellator and then take a maternity leave. This division is kind of – it’s flaky, but there are definitely some good contenders coming up and I’ll keep my eye out.”

To hear from Budd, check out the video above.

And for complete coverage of Bellator 189, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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Filed under: Bellator, News, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

From mom's death to bad knee: Talita Nogueira's rough road to long-awaited Bellator debut

When jiu-jitsu champion Talita Nogueira enters the Bellator cage tonight, almost four years will have elapsed since her most recent MMA fight.

Yes, it’s been a long layoff. But it wasn’t for lack of trying. Since being signed to join Bellator’s women’s 145-pound roster back in 2014, Nogueira faced a number of hardships – physical and mental – before being able to finally make her promotional debut.

Just 10 days before traveling to the U.S. for a scheduled Bellator 133 meeting with Julia Budd in 2015, Nogueira suffered ACL and meniscus tears. She managed to compete in jiu-jitsu in the meantime, but with her knee continuing to go out of place, she went under the knife six months later.

“The recovery itself was close to one year,” Nogueira told MMAjunkie. “My thigh muscle had atrophied.”

After attempted bookings for June and July of 2016 fell through, Nogueira finally got a new date. It was a big one, too: Nogueira was slated to meet veteran Marloes Coenen at Bellator 183.

Speaking to MMAjunkie at the time, Nogueira said the training was great. But while she was physically recovered, the featherweight was dealing with a personal tragedy: Her mother died of cancer just three months prior to signing the bout agreement.

“While dealing with my mother’s illness, I put on weight, way above the usual,” Nogueira said. “I accepted the fight because I truly wanted to fight in Bellator, and because I wanted to use that as a motivator. In truth, it wasn’t a good time for me.

“My weight was too high and my head wasn’t in the right place. I still suffered from the loss of my mother, who was very important in my life.”

As a result, Nogueira came in 5.6 pounds too heavy the day before the meeting with Coenen – who, in turn, made weight. The bout was scrapped. Coenen went on to headline Bellator 174, opposite Budd, and retired shortly after a fourth-round TKO loss.

Nogueira (6-0 MMA, 0-0 BMMA), in turn, had to wait a little before finally getting another debut date. Now, set to meet Amanda Bell (5-4 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, N.Y., the Brazilian grappling expert’s head is certainly in a much better place.

“I’m feeling great,” Nogueira said. “I’m happy. I’m ready.”

Other than the physical and personal issues beyond her control, another reason why Nogueira’s only had six pro MMA bouts since her 2009 debut was merely the fact she was focused somewhere else: on jiu-jitsu.

That paid off for the black belt world champion, who’s collected titles and staved off rust by keeping an active schedule in grappling competitions. While it’s not her sole weapon, Nogueira makes no secret of how confident she is on her ground game.

“Ultimately, I’m a jiu-jitsu world champion, with and without the gi,” Nogueira said. “I don’t care if someone is bad, good, or what martial art they came from. I’ll still beat them.”

It also helps that Nogueira had the help of someone who’s come to basically simbolize what a successful grappling-to-MMA transition looks like in the cage.

“I’m training at Vila da Luta, which is (UFC welterweight contender) Demian Maia’s academy,” Nogueira said. “I’m a big fan of his. He inspires all jiu-jitsu practitioners in MMA. It’s also a great inspiration to hit the mat with him every day.

“My trainers and cornermen are the same as Demian’s. Several great fighters train here like (former UFC champ) Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua. I want to be at least 50 percent as good as Demian. I’m very happy here.”

For now, Nogueira says the focus is 100 percent on coming out victorious of her long-awaited Bellator debut. But, if everything goes according to plan, this will only be the first step of yet another highly victorious career path.

“I want to be the best,” Nogueira said. “I already wrote my story in jiu-jitsu, and I want to do the same in MMA now. I’m taking it one step at a time.

“If I keep winning, that will be a consequence of my work. I’ll be ready for anyone. I trust in what I do. I trust my jiu-jitsu.”

For more on Bellator 182, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie