Cris Cyborg made her Bellator debut by walking down the ramp of the Forum wearing purple and gold. The last time she was fighting in the venue, she was with the UFC and got eviscerated by Amanda Nunes in 51 seconds.
As soon as Cyborg’s fight started Saturday, one of the most dominant and transcendent female fighters of all time returned to Showtime form and made more history with a highlight-reel finish of Julia Budd in a one-sided affair.
The Brazilian pioneer Cyborg crushed the featherweight champion Budd and cruised to a fourth-round technical knockout, 1:14 into the round. Cyborg picked up a championship in a fourth MMA promotion, adding to her previous collection of belts that included the UFC, Strikeforce and Invicta.
“God is so amazing,” Cyborg said afterward. “I lost my belt here at the Forum, then he brought me back here [to win another one].”
Much like the many vicious right hands that landed before them, Cyborg (22-2) connected with a combination of rights in the fourth that dropped Budd (13-3) for the final time. One last kick to the body to boot did her in, and referee Mike Beltran stopped the fight to prevent more punishment to the Canadian.
Cyborg looked impressive in her first match since ending a seven-fight stint in the UFC, one that came to a tumultuous end last summer. Cyborg wasted little time, walking in with a body shot in the opening seconds of the fight and a cross before both fighters clinched. It set up what would be a feverish pace to the bout. The fight moved from the ground, back up, and to the ground. There was plenty of violence in between, with Cyborg certainly getting the better of the exchanges. She even survived an illegal blow when she was grounded, but Beltran did not take away a point from Budd.
The durable and strong Budd, who hadn’t lost since 2011, did a better job in the second and fended off Cyborg with her legs and knees during clinches. But it wasn’t enough. Cyborg kept the frenetic attack going, showing superior power and speed with looping right and left power punches.
Cyborg staved off Budd in the third with even more offense and dropped her with a right and climbed on top. Budd finished the round in survival mode as Cyborg stood over her opponent and crushed her with rights and elbows.
“I respect Julia. She was a long time undefeated,” Cyborg said. “This is a new era. I’m happy to be a Bellator champion.”