HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — Canadian Julia (The Jewel) Budd won her Professional Fighters League debut Wednesday, earning a unanimous decision over American Kaitlin (The Striking Viking) Young on the promotion’s high-profile final card of the season.
All three judges scored it 30-27 for the 38-year-old from Port Moody, B.C., a former Bellator featherweight champion who moved up a weight class to fight at lightweight (155 pounds) in the PFL. The promotion does not have a featherweight division (145 pounds).
Budd landed 86 of 117 strikes — with 54 of those ground strikes — and completed two takedowns, according to the PFL's "Cagenomics" stats. Young was good on 47 of 71 strike attempts and had one takedown.
Budd finished the fight with an attempt at an arm-triangle submission but ran out of time.
Budd ended the first round with a takedown. Taken down herself in the second, she managed to reverse position. And she built up her edge in strikes as the fight progressed.
Unlike other MMA promotions, the PFL offers fighters a regular season with the most successful advancing to the playoffs and ultimately a championship bout.
Budd didn't sign with PFL in late September so won't take part in the full season or contest a title until 2022. But the PFL, which cancelled its 2020 season due to the pandemic, was quick to showcase her on its biggest card of the year.
There were six titles up for grabs on Wednesday's card at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino., with each winner set to receive U$1 million along with the championship belt.
Lightweight champion Kayla Harrison (11-0-0), a two-time Olympic judo champion, faced Taylor Guardado (3-1-0) in the main event. Ray (Bradda Boy) Cooper III (22-8-1) took on Russian Magomed Magomedkerimov (28-5-0) for the welterweight championship in the co-main event.
It was Chris (The Long Island Killer) Wade (20-6-0) versus Russia’s Movlid (Killer) Khaybulaev (18-0-1 with one no contest) for the featherweight title, Brazil’s Raush Manfio (14-3-0) versus Tajikistan’s Loik (Jaguar Paw) Radzhabov (15-3-1) for the lightweight crown, Antonio (Cara de Sapato) Carlos Jr. (2-0-0 with one no contest) versus Norway’s Marthin Hamlet (2-1-0) for the light-heavyweight title and Brazil’s Bruno Cappelozza (13-5-0) versus Croatia’s Ante (Walking Trouble) Delija (19-4-0) for heavyweight honours.
Budd (16-3-0) has won her last three fights and 14 of her last 15 with a title loss to Cris Cyborg at Bellator 258 in January 2020. Her only other losses were also to elite opposition: (Rowdy) Ronda Rousey and Amanda Nunes, both in 2011 in the Strikeforce promotion.
Budd made her Bellator debut in February 2015 and won nine of 10 bouts there. After the loss to Cyborg, which ended an 11-fight win streak, Budd remained the No. 1 contender at 145 pounds in Bellator and opted to move on when another title shot wasn't on the horizon.
Young (12-12-1) has now lost her lost two fights. The 36-year-old from Minnesota was coming off a split decision loss to Brazil’s Mariana (Razor) Morais in June.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 27, 2021
The Canadian Press