Saturday night featured a very historic headliner for Bellator 238 on DAZN.
This card’s headliner featured Julia Budd taking on Cris Cyborg (real name Cristiane Justino) for Budd’s Bellator MMA Women’s Featherweight championship belt.
In watching this fight live on DAZN, I could clearly see in the third round that Julia Budd was very much overmatched against the former UFC stalwart.
John McCarthy, who was providing analysis for the event on DAZN this past weekend and keeps a running scorecard of all fights he calls on Bellator MMA broadcasts, had Cyborg shutting Budd out, three rounds to none, heading into the championship rounds.
In the fourth round of the scheduled five, Cyborg scored a knockout of Budd (punches and kick) to secure the championship belt.
In so doing, Cris Cyborg entered into some truly rarified air, as she has now won championships in four mixed martial arts promotions.
Previously, Cyborg had won championships in the UFC, INVICTA Fighting Championships, and the late Strikeforce MMA, the last of which was overseen by current Bellator MMA president Scott Coker.
Two days removed from Bellator 238, I can now safely say that in my opinion, there is neither a question nor a doubt left that Cris Cyborg’s status as a legend in this sport is now firmly cemented.
Think about it:
Cris Cyborg now has won championships in four promotions.
Not even the great Ronda Rousey can say that.
Comparatively, not counting her stint as the RAW Women’s Champion, Rousey has won only two championships in major promotions.
(Rousey is still, as of this writing, on hiatus from World Wrestling Entertainment, having last appeared in the WrestleMania 34 headliner last year, losing the RAW championship to Becky Lynch (pinfall) in a triple threat match against her and Charlotte Flair.)
Moving away from discussion about sports entertainment, I’m not surprised that Cris Cyborg unseated Julia Budd as the champion this weekend during Bellator 238’s main event.
MMA fans should have seen this coming last summer when Bellator MMA signed her to a contract in the aftermath of Cyborg’s publicized and messy divorce from the UFC.
UFC president Dana White was quoted at the time as saying:
“I’m gonna release her from her contract. I will not match any offers, she is free and clear to go to Bellator or any other organizations and fight these easy fights that she wants. Done. Done deal.”
“I will literally, today, have my lawyers draft a letter to her team that she is free and clear to go wherever she wants. We’re out of the Cyborg business.”
After a month of free agency, including the stalled retention talks between Cyborg’s camp and the UFC after UFC 240 last July, on Sept. 3, the day after Labor Day, Coker announced that Bellator MMA and Cyborg had agreed to a deal.
Within days of Cyborg’s Bellator deal becoming official, she was doing meet-and-greets in the concourses of arenas where Bellator MMA were holding events.
In the immediate aftermath of Cyborg joining Bellator, I thought to myself:
“There’s a very real possibility here that Cyborg will contend for, and win, a championship in Bellator in fairly short order.”
Cris Cyborg winning the MMA grand slam is impressive in and of itself.
Completing said grand slam in her Bellator MMA promotional debut is all the more impressive.
All that’s left for Cris Cyborg to do now is take her rightful place in the pantheon of greatness in MMA.
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