August 12, 2020

Who’s next for Bellator champions Ilima-Lei Macfarlane and Julia Budd?

Two weeks separated two of the best female champions in all of MMA from showing the world why they are the indeed the best.

On June 29th Ilima-Lei Macfarlane successfully defended her Bellator Flyweight strap against a game Alejandra Lara. Macfarlane beat Lara in the 3rd round by a vicious arm bar. Two weeks later, on July 13th, Bellator Featherweight champion Julia Budd defended her title against Talita Noguiera. Budd put on a dominating performance and would finish her opponent in the 3rd round by an onslaught of strikes on the ground. Both Macfarlane and Budd showed exactly why they are amongst the best female MMA fighters in the world.

Now that the two champions won their fights, it’s time to think about what is next for them in the Bellator cage!

Ilima-Lei Macfarlane

With just 8 fights and 8 wins, it can be said Ilima-Lei Macfarlane is already the best women’s Flyweight. In those eight wins, five have come by submission. Macfarlane’s ground game is some of the best we will see in a cage – and she’s still learning. Using her phenomenal Jiu-Jitsu as a go-to in her fights, Macfarlane is a submission specialist. But don’t think for a second her striking isn’t up to par with everyone else in the division because it is. She might be comfortable on the mat but Macfarlane is also very comfortable and confident on her feet. Simply, Ilima-Lei Macfarlane is a well put together fighter looking for that opponent to give her a fight in the stand-up and on the ground.

Now the Bellator Flyweight champion needs an opponent! There are a few ladies outside of Bellator who could jump right in to a title fight. But if Bellator is going to give someone on their roster a shot at the title, there’s a fighter who fought on the same card as Mcfarlane and whom also won. Since coming to Bellator Valerie Letourneau has two wins including an impressive one in her last fight against Kristina Williams. Letourneau has proven to be a title contender in the past and now she’s ready to fight for a title again. An Ilima-Lei Macfarlane versus Valerie Letourneau scrap is the fight to make in the Bellator Women’s Flyweight division.  Both the champion Macfarlane and Letourneau have shown interest in this fight. Now its up to Bellator to book it. In Hawaii!!

Julia Budd

Ten straight wins in MMA is rare feat but Bellator’s Women’s Featherweight champion Julia Budd has accomplished this streak. Her only two losses are to the current UFC Women’s Bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes and former champion Ronda Rousey. In five of her ten wins on this streak 4 have come via Knockout or TKO and one by submission. Julia Budd has shown improvement in every fight and in her latest win she showed the entire package. Budd has always been one of the better all-around female fighters in the Featherweight division – now she’s easily the second best.

The only fighter that might be better than Julia Budd is the UFC’s Women’s Featherweight champion Cris Cyborg. A fight between the two is almost a dream matchup at this point, given that the two woman are fighting for different promotions. If this fight ever comes to fruition it would be a massive event. Julia Budd and Cris Cyborg are superstars in MMA. But as of now that fight is a dream scenario. Julia Budd needs a fight against someone already on Bellator’s roster. In her post-fight interview, Budd called out Sinead Kavanagh. If the champion wants that fight, Bellator should give it to her – unless they bring a fighter in from outside of the promotion. Kavanagh is a Straight Blast Gym Ireland product that is 1-3 in Bellator. That isn’t exactly a great record but who are we to tell Julia Budd she needs to fight someone different? If Sinead Kavanagh is who Julia Budd wants, give her that fight. She’s at the point in her career where she can makes those type of call-outs and they should be given to her! So Julia Budd versus Sinead Kavanagh it is!


4 thoughts on “Who’s next for Bellator champions Ilima-Lei Macfarlane and Julia Budd?

  1. Sinead Kavanagh is 2-2 in Bellator, not 1-3, just as a simple correction. She beat Elina Kallionidou, lost to Iony Razafiarison and Arlene Blencowe and beat Maria Casanova.

  2. I certainly don’t agree with many of Stephen’s statement. Perhaps some were just not clear or needed further elaboration.

    When he says, ” Ilima-Lei Macfarlane is already the best women’s Flyweight,” I hope he is limiting that to Bellator, which is questionable, but what is pretty not questionable is that she is not the best women’s Flyweight in the world. I think she will have her hands full with Letourneau, who, although having fought in 3 weight divisions, has not defeated a single top 10 fighter.

    His statement that “Julia Budd has shown improvement in every fight” is clearly wrong in that her previous fight against Arlene Blencowe was one of her worst, one that many felt she lost. Unfortunately for Arlene, no one wants to see a repeat of what could have been considered one of the most boring fights in MMA, but she is probably more deserving than any other, especially since both decisions over her were questionable.

    While a 10 fight win streak is impressive, it is easier to accomplish when over more than a 3 year period, she was #2 contender in Strikeforce and Invicta, but failed to fight either the champ or the #1 contender. At Bellator, it took her nearly 3 more years before she matched up with top contender Coenen. She did win, but only after Coenen was upset by a former BW from the UFC who was booted out for her poor performances there.

    Stephen further states, “The only fighter that might be better than Julia Budd is the UFC’s Women’s Featherweight champion Cris Cyborg. ” I would argue that Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes are probably both better, but they certainly “… might be better.” I would not be surprised if even current flyweight contender, Valentina Shevchenko, could outpoint Budd, but I’m not sure if it’s a fight I would want to see. Given the size disparity, I would imagine Valentina would be exceedingly cautious, and against Budd, that’s a recipe for utter boredom.

    People complain about how weak and thin the UFC’s FW division is, but it has 3 of the top 4 ranked FW’s in the world. The only FW at Bellator that is ranked in the top 10 other than Budd is Blencowe. Sinead is ranked at 14 by Tapology, but unfortunately for Bellator, she is the second highest ranking FW there so that is who we will probably see Budd fight next.

    We can only hope that Budd does not elect to retire if and when Cyborg announces her move over there.

  3. Julia Budd is the best 145 lb in the world. She’s beat the first ever UFC Featherweight Champion , Julia is the 3x Bellator World Champ and the Canadian Muay Thai Champion. She will beat Cyborg. Hopefully Bellator signs cyborg.

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