Former featherweight world champion Julia (The Jewel) Budd will be stepping back into the ring for the first time since she lost her title in January.
The Roberts Creek mixed martial artist will take on Jessy (The Widowmaker) Miele on Aug. 21 in the co-main event of Bellator 244 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.
Originally scheduled for April, the event was postponed because of COVID-19. Safety protocols are in place for what will now be a crowdless night.
Also fighting will be her stepson, Lance Gibson Jr., who will be taking on Shane Kruchten on the undercard in the lightweight division.
In an interview with MMA journalist James Lynch, Budd said her stepson will be in her corner and vice versa on fight night.
She also spoke about the changes to the event due to COVID-19. “I think it’ll be interesting with no crowd,” she said, adding they are practising to get ready for a night without noise from fans.
Winning was also on the 37-year-old’s mind after losing her world title to Cris Cyborg at Bellator 238. That result ended her 11-fight winning streak, which had lasted since November 2011. She is 7-1-0 since signing with Bellator in 2015.
“I’m ready to shine on Aug. 21,” she said, adding she plans on “finishing the fight.”
“I’m motivated, and I’m especially motivated after losing on Jan. 25,” she said. “I want to go out there and make things right.”
Her opponent, 35-year-old Miele (9-3), has won four straight and five of her last six bouts. She was slated to meet Leslie Smith at Bellator 241 before the card was cancelled due to COVID-19.
The Aug. 21 event also sees two-division Bellator champion Ryan (Darth) Bader (27-5-0 with one no-contest) defend his light-heavyweight title against Russia's Vadim Nemkov (11-2-0).
During the interview, Budd also mentioned the June 7 Black Lives Matter march she led in Sechelt, which attracted more than 1,000 participants. Another march has been planned for the community on Sept. 20, she said, this time for Indigenous rights.
“We’ve been meeting over the summer and talking about that and planning another march on the Sunshine Coast,” she said.
“It’s important we shed light on the racism here.”
“I see the protests and people marching, but that’s how change happens.”
– With files from the Canadian Press