Cris Cyborg stops Julia Budd in 4th round to gain featherweight title in Bellator debut

Kevin Iole
Combat columnist
INGLEWOOD, CA - JANUARY 25: Julia Budd (red gloves) and Cris Cyborg (blue gloves) exchange blows during their featherweight world title fight at The Forum on January 25, 2020 in Inglewood, California. Cyborg won by TKO in the 4th round. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

INGLEWOOD, Calif. — It wasn’t your typical performance from Cris “Cyborg” Justino. She didn’t roar out of her corner at the start of her fight for the women’s featherweight title with Julia Budd at Bellator 238 at The Forum like an out-of-control locomotive, firing big punches.

She fought an in-control, smart and measured bout.

But in the way that it mattered most, it was the same old Cyborg.

The Brazilian veteran stopped Budd at 1:14 of the fourth round Saturday to win the title, making Bellator the fourth organization she’s held major championships following Strikeforce, Invicta and the UFC.

Budd was physically strong and in excellent condition, and she held her own for a while. But she was limited offensively and had little in her arsenal that could cause Cyborg problems.

As the fight wore on, Cyborg picked up the pace. She nearly finished it at the end of the third when she dropped Budd late in the round, then hit her with a flurry of punches and elbows in the final 10 or 15 seconds.

Budd was saved by the bell and actually got off her stool and was bouncing on her toes in the corner as she awaited the start of the fourth round.

Cyborg, though, felt it by that point and she came out hard to begin the round, smelling the finish. In the same building where she lost her title in stunning fashion to Amanda Nunes at UFC 232 in 2018, Justino didn’t let it slip away this time. She dropped Budd with a right and never let her off the hook.

Cyborg finished it with a flurry that forced Mike Beltran to halt it.

When the fight ended, Cyborg fell on her back with her arms spread in exultation. 

She proved that she’s one of the greatest women’s fighters who ever lived, and she didn’t do it simply by outsizing her opponent. This one came as a result of following a smart game plan that she executed nearly perfectly.

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