With the sound of the bell to kick off this first-ever Bellator women’s featherweight championship bout between Marloes Coenen and Julia Budd, the MMA world witnessed history.
The first strikes belong to Budd as she lands a two-punch combination and backs up. Coenen reacts with a low kick to the back of her opponent’s left leg. They fake and feint for roughly 15 seconds before Coenen returns to the same attack. Budd then uses a clinch knee to the torso to set up a slamming double-leg takedown attempt that’s money. Coenen looks for a possible neck crank as she wraps her legs around Budd in guard, but her head pops out of the hold as they are midway through the round.
“The Jewel” uses body shots from inside Coenen’s guard to mostly suppress her for what remains of the first. The Dutch pioneer thinks she might have a triangle choke on Budd but is kept curled up.
Coenen begins the second with a kick to the stomach of her Canadian adversary. Budd whiffs on a front kick counter but once again throws her arms around Coenen’s neck and forces her down. This time she’s in side control but is forced into the north-south position. Despite the position, Budd has an arm around Coenen’s head while also bringing down elbows.
“Rumina” next fights off a d’arce choke when she finds herself on her stomach but is then quickly rolled onto her back again. Budd pops her with left hands from on top. Coenen goes back to the triangle before a gogoplata. However, Budd is able to keep her down and execute ground n’ pound for the next minute.
Coenen went back to her corner between the second and third round looking like she had already lost this fight and her decline continued into the middle stanza as well.
She’s the one that latches on a clinch about a half-minute in this time, but before the end of the first minute she is staring up at the arena lights. The action stays in that position with Budd land short left punches and elbows yet not feeling a need to pass guard. They’re stood up with 2:30 to go.
Coenen jogs to the other side of the cage to try and create distance before they get back at it. Budd lands a front kick and one-two ahead of another clinch. Coenen looks like she has a sort of side-headlock but then gives up her back and is down again. Budd works for a head and arm (arm-triangle) choke. She gets by Coenen’s legs but can’t move to the right like she wants as she is too close to the fence.
Budd is now on Coenen’s back after she willing gave it up to reduce the pressure of the previous choke. The position isn’t exactly a set-up for a rear-naked choke but Budd works through it, elbowing her way into Coenen’s half guard. She keeps her down with strikes and moves ahead 3-0.
The front kick-clinch-takedown cycle repeats itself within about 15 seconds. Budd again lands in side control. A series of right elbows then leads to full mount. Budd continues to do whatever she wishes and is just teeing off on Coenen with a minute gone. Referee “Big John” McCarthy is inching closer and closer. He gives a warning as Coenen shields herself with her elbows facing Budd.
Shots still find their way through. Then, mercifully, this one is over.
(C) Julia Budd def. Marloes Coenen via TKO at 2:42
The now 23-8-0 Coenen announced her retirement from MMA following the bout. She leaves the sport as a legend for women and as a former women’s bantamweight (135-pound) champion in Bellator President Scott Coker’s now-defunct Strikeforce organization. She was also the first contracted athlete for the all-female Invicta Fighting Championship.