Julia Budd hitting a career stride heading into Bellator 224 main event title defense

Looking back over her most recent win against Talita Nogueira at Bellator 202 in July of 2018, featherweight champion Julia Budd feels like it was one of the strongest performances of her career.

Coming off a split-decision in her previous bout eight months earlier, Budd was looking to pick up a finish, and was able to do so with a third round TKO of Nogueira to retain her 145lb title.

“I think it went better than I even envisioned it,” Budd told MMAWeekly.com. “All in all I feel like I was able to showcase my full skills; standing, ground, everything; it was just a great experience. I was really proud of how it went in there.”

After negotiating a new deal with Bellator and taking time off to deal with a death in her family, Budd got back into fight mode earlier this year and feels like she’s coming back stronger than ever.

“This is the best training camp I have ever had in my career,” said Budd. “I’m just hitting new levels in every aspect of my comfort; with my full MMA together, with my sparring, with my conditioning and my strength and everything.

“Overall the energy in this camp going into this camp has been the best I’ve ever been. I can’t wait to go in there and putting on the best performance of my career.”

On Friday in Thackerville, Okla., Budd (12-2) will look to secure her third successful title defense when she faces challenger Olga Rubin (6-0) in the featherweight championship main event of Bellator 224.

TRENDING > Dana White thinks Holly Holm should consider retirement

“I feel like I have to dominate in every aspect (of the fight game),” Budd said. “(Rubin is) well-rounded everywhere, but I see myself as the most well-rounded and best in the division for a reason, and I plan on showcasing it in every aspect.

“We’ve been working on a ton of my striking and stand-up stills going into this specific fight, and that’s the area I want to show the most in and show the growth that I’ve been able to (achieve) in these past couple months.”

On the first fight of a four-fight contract, Budd has a lot of options going forward with her career, but for now she’s focused on her bout with Rubin before thinking of what could come next.

“I’m focused 100-percent on this fight,” said Budd. “I have to make sure I go in there and do my job and I come out with a dominant victory. From there, we’ll look forward.

“There are three other featherweight fights on the card and any one of those girls who are fighting it would be great to fight any of them, but I would love to fight again before the end of the year.”