With Strikeforce’s 145-pound women’s division in need of contenders, it may be sooner than later that MMA newcomer Julia Budd gets her shot at glory.
Budd, who may be best known as the only woman to defeat Gina Carano in kickboxing, made her debut this past October, dominating previously undefeated Shana Olsen en route to a second round TKO.
“It felt amazing,” said Budd of making her MMA debut. “I’ve been waiting for it for a long time. I was originally supposed to fight in Strikeforce a couple years before, but that fell through.
“I had always kind of had my eye on it, and then (Strikeforce matchmaker) Bob Cook called and said they had a fight for us and I was so excited.”
Budd easily overwhelmed Olsen, whom to many had been the initial favorite.
“I felt like I had nothing to lose,” Budd told MMAWeekly.com. “I was the underdog, she was 4-0, but I knew I was really prepared because I had been training all summer.”
Impressed by her performance, Strikeforce has invited Budd to once again participate in a Challengers Series live broadcast against a more experienced fighter in Amanda Nunes.
“I think it’s going to be a really exciting fight,” stated Budd. “I’m kind of the underdog going in and I love being the underdog. It’s another step for me, but we’re prepared. I trained my butt off for this and I’m ready.”
While she was decisively larger and stronger than her opponent in her first MMA fight, Budd doesn’t automatically assume she’ll have such an advantage every time out.
“When I’m training for fights, I prepare for monsters,” she said. “For me it’s always better for me to go in there and see she’s smaller than I expected. Right now I’m expecting a big girl, someone my size, and if I get in there and she’s smaller than me, great, if not, I’m prepared for it.”
Sharing many similar traits to Gina Carano, Budd was asked if she feels the two will be compared or if she will be allowed to develop as her own fighter in MMA.
“I think it’s a mixture of both,” replied Budd. “If they want to (compare us), awesome, if not, then I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing.
“She was an awesome ambassador for the sport and opened a lot of doors for us. She showed that you could be a girl and still a powerful fighter, and that’s good because I think there’s still a lot of people out that have stereotypes of what we’re supposed to be like.”
With such a wide gap between the established stars in the women’s 145-pound division and it’s up-and-comers, Budd may be thrust into the spotlight quicker than most many anticipate, which is just fine by her.
“I’m game for anyone,” she exclaimed. “It’s up to my manager and what he wants to do, but yeah, I’m ready. I’m not going to sit on the sidelines. This is a window of opportunity and I want to take advantage of it.”
In a division in need of fresh, new talent and title contenders, it may not be long before Budd goes from one to the other in a blink of an eye, which may not only be good for her but the women’s 145-pound weight class as well.
“I want to thank my coach, Lance Gibson and all my training partners who’ve helped me get ready for this fight,” she concluded.
“This is a big fight for me, it’s a huge test and I want to start of 2011 with the best performance I’ve ever had and show that I’m a complete mixed martial artist.”