USA TODAY US Edition

Cyborg captures Bellator belt for unique sweep

- Dave Doyle MMA Junkie

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – A piece of mixed martial arts history was made Saturday night when Cris Cyborg defeated Julia Budd in the main event of Bellator 238 at The Forum.

With her TKO victory at 1:14 of the fourth round of their Bellator women’s featherwei­ght championsh­ip bout, Cyborg (22-2) became the first fighter of either gender to win belts in four separate major league promotions. By taking Bellator’s 145-pound crown in her promotiona­l debut, Cyborg added to a resume that already included Strikeforc­e, Invicta FC and UFC titles.

“I was never thinking this is going to happen,” said the 34-year-old Cyborg, who has been fighting profession­ally since 2005. “When I start, I have a dream. I have a dream I want to do my best.”

Budd (13-3), who had been champion since 2017 and was seeking to make her fourth successful title defense, proved to be plenty tough, but toughness alone isn’t enough to defeat a competitor the caliber of Cyborg. The Huntington Beach, California, resident by way of Brazil employed her vintage, aggressive striking style from the outset, always pushing forward and throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Budd.

Early on, Budd was able to withstand the onslaught and occasional­ly neutralize Cyborg in the clinch. But the British Columbia, Canada, native slowly wore down under her opponent’s onslaught. The third round ended with Cyborg delivering ground-and-pound offense from the mount. The fight then ended early in the fourth under a hellacious swarm of strikes, with a withering kick to the ribs delivering the fight’s finishing blow.

It was Cyborg’s 17th career victory via knockout or TKO. Budd had an 11-fight winning streak snapped.

“I’m thankful,” Cyborg said. “I feel blessed I have the opportunit­y to hold four titles.”

 ??  ?? Cris Cyborg, right, defeated Julia Budd in Bellator 238 on Saturday. She previously won titles with Strikeforc­e, Invicta FC and UFC. DAVE MANDEL/USA TODAY SPORTS
Cris Cyborg, right, defeated Julia Budd in Bellator 238 on Saturday. She previously won titles with Strikeforc­e, Invicta FC and UFC. DAVE MANDEL/USA TODAY SPORTS

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