Julia Budd is at the top of her game, there’s no question about it.
The Bellator MMA women’s featherweight champion proved to be too much for Brazilian challenger Talita Nogueira as the “The Jewel” dominated her from start to finish. Budd was relentless with timely striking and smashing ground-and-pound en route to a third-round stoppage to retain to her title in the main event of Bellator 202 at Winstar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Oklahoma.
Budd nearly folded the previously unbeaten Nogueira in half with a devastating knee to the body in the second frame, but “Treta” survived the onslaught by fending off the ensuing barrage of punches. Budd made sure her foe didn’t make it out of the third, though, as the Canadian took her time by picking off Nogueira on the feet before drilling her with a missile of a right hand to the jaw. Nogueira collapsed against the cage and from there, she succumbed to follow-up punches until referee Jason Herzog pulled her off, ending the mugging at the 4:07 mark. It was Budd’s 10th consecutive win.
Looking to make a statement in the bantamweight division, Michael McDonald wasted no time in dispatching former champion Eduardo Dantas. “Mayday” opened the bout with a thudding leg kick to the Brazilian’s thigh, circled away from his foe and then replicated his attack. However, masked behind that second kick was a laser of a right hand to the jaw that dropped “Dudu” awkwardly once it landed. McDonald pounded on his woozy foe and unloaded a tempest of left hands to the head, forcing referee Jacob Montalvo to intervene just 58 seconds into their match. Replays showed that Dantas suffered a horrific injured right ankle when he crumbled from the punch.
Chris Honeycutt bounced back from a loss to Rafael Lovato Jr. by tormenting jiu-jitsu world champion Leo Leite for three rounds and winning a lopsided unanimous decision along the way. “The Cutt” did virtually whatever he wanted in the contest as he nullified his foe’s grappling prowess and out-struck him throughout. All three cageside judges favored Honeycutt 30-25, allowing him to move up the middleweight ladder.
Russian grappler Valentin Moldavsky showed off an improved striking game by stopping American Ernest James late in the second. Moldavsky nearly took his opponent out late in the opening frame with a series of punches to the face, but James hung tough. However, with a badly swollen left eye and with blood pouring from his nose and mouth, James was unable to survive a similar attack a round later. A perfect left jab, followed by a straight right to the face rocked James, who stumbled away. James turtled up against the cage moments later, allowing Moldavsky to rake him with punches until referee Michael Bell had seen enough. The TKO came at 4:03 of the second.
In preliminary action, Will Morris toppled Charles Williams via unanimous nod via tallies of 30-25, 30-27 and 30-26; Veta Arteaga edged former title challenger Emily Ducote unanimously with scores of 30-27 across the board; Yaroslav Amosov won a unanimous verdict over Gerald Harris via margins of 30-27 (twice) and 30-26; Steve Kozola took out Ryan Walker with punches at 1:45 of the first; Rudy Schaffroth punched out Jon Hill in just 42 seconds; and Tyler Ingram submitted Fernando Gonzalez Trevino via rear-naked choke at 4:13 of the second.