Just In Bellator 224: Julia Budd wants Gabi Garcia in Rizin on NYE, then Leslie Smith MMA Life

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THACKERVILLE, Okla. – After arguably her most dominant title defense yet, Julia Budd knows a few things.

For starters, Budd thinks she proved herself to be the best women’s featherweight in the world. And second and third, she has a solid plan with what she wants next, and it starts with someone about 100 pounds north of her weight class.

Budd (13-2 MMA, 7-0 BMMA) had no problem taking out Olga Rubin (6-1 MMA, 4-1 BMMA) with a first-round TKO Friday night in the Bellator 224 main event at WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Okla. It was her fourth straight title victory and third straight successful defense. All four of those title fights have been in Thackerville.

Afterward, Budd said she wants a fight in Japan under the Rizin banner against women’s heavyweight Gabi Garcia. And after that, she’ll gladly put her Bellator belt on the line against Leslie Smith, who beat Sinead Kavanagh on the Bellator 224 prelims.

“New Year’s Eve in Tokyo? Hell yeah,” Budd told MMA Junkie backstage after her win. “It’s exciting for me. We’ve talked about it, and I really want to do that. I love that Bellator and Rizin have that relationship. It’s amazing. I’d love that fight first, and Leslie Smith after. I’m excited that Leslie’s fighting in Bellator. I think she brings some new energy and excitement to the division.”

Budd thinks she showed the MMA world there’s no one better than her in the 145-pound weight class.

And Bellator’s women’s featherweight division, in general, is prospering these days. In the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie women’s featherweight rankings, Bellator has seven entrants in the top 15. The UFC has four.

“I knew what my job was to do,” Budd said. “Being the champion of the division and being the face of the women’s 145-pound division in Bellator, I knew what I had to do tonight – and put out a statement that this belt’s not going anywhere, and I’m the most well-round 145er in the world.”

Budd also said if former UFC women’s featherweight champ Cris Cyborg happened to come over to Bellator, she’d welcome a fight with her, too. Cyborg, after Budd’s win, praised the champion and Bellator and said the promotion is where the best 145ers reside.

“I think it’s great – come on over,” Budd said. “We’ve got the best 145ers in the world, and I would be totally interested in that fight. Obviously, with her resume, I don’t think she needs to fight in Bellator first to earn her spot.”

For complete coverage of Bellator 224, check out the MMA Results.

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