Budd Becomes Inaugural Champ; Coenen Retires

For a while now, Julia Budd has been an advocate for the 145-pound female fighters, especially those in Bellator, trying to bring more attention to the division. Now, she has a title to go with her advocacy work.

Julia Budd defeated Marloes Coenen in the main event of Bellator 174 on Friday night to become the first-ever Bellator women’s featherweight champion.

"It’s been a long road," Budd said after the bout. "I don’t think anything has ever felt as good as this."

The two tangled early on into the bout, with Coenen getting an early takedown that Budd managed to get out of. Coenen spent a majority of the round trying to get a submission attempt, and the more she worked, the more Budd struggled trying to get out of positioning where she’d be primarily on the defensive end. Budd was able to stand up for a brief bit, and she managed to land a few hard elbows as the round came to a close.

Budd turned the tables on her opposition in round two, taking down Coenen and seemingly looking for submission attempts of her own. Coenen briefly got out of Budd’s grasp, but Budd brought her back down to the ground twice. Coenen positioned her legs, looking to attempt a triangle, or possibly a gogoplata, but Budd managed to escape.

In round three, Coenen looked to strike early, only to fall into Budd’s clutches once again. Budd looked to get into full mount for about a minute and a half, but she failed to do so. Halfway through the round, referee "Big" John McCarthy paused the bout to stand both combatants up. Budd, however, just went right back to work, taking Coenen down and nearly scoring an arm choke before getting her flat on the ground.  Coenen survived, but it was becoming clear she was in a really bad situation.

Budd, yet again, got an early takedown as round four went underway. Budd connected with several punches and elbows nearly a minute in. Coenen managed to survive about another minute or so, until McCarthy said he’d seen enough and waved off the bout, awarding the title to Budd.

Coenen announced her retirement from MMA following the contest. The former Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champion, who also had stints in Invicta FC and DREAM, closes the book on her career with a record of 23-8.

"I would like to announce this is my last fight. I retire," Coenen said. "I would like to thank Scott Coker. He was the first promoter to recognize women are a force to be reckoned with."

Bellator 174 results:
To determine the Inaugural Bellator Women’s Featherweight Champion: Julia Budd def. Marloes Coenen via TKO (Rd. 4, 2:42)
Fernando Gonzalez def. Brandon Girtz via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 30-26)
Justin Wren def. Roman Pizzolato via submission (arm triangle) (Rd. 1, 2:35)
Rafael Lovato Jr. def. Charles Hackmann via TKO (Rd. 1, 0:13)

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