Bellator MMA now has their very first women’s featherweight champion as Julia Budd stopped Marloes Coenen with strikes in the fourth round of their Bellator 174 marquee matchup. Following her loss, the 17-year MMA pioneer Coenen announced her retirement from the sport, while the 26-year-old Cody Pfister also announced his departure from professional cage fighting. The co-main event on the night saw Fernando Gonzalez take a unanimous decision victory over Brandon Girtz in a fight that was a lot closer than the scorecards might indicate.
Julia Budd def. Marloes Coenen at 2:42 of round 4: Inaugural (W) Featherweight Title
Julia Budd secured a takedown in the first minute of the fight, right in front of her corner. Coenen found success controlling the posture of Budd, before throwing up a Triangle attempt. Budd spent the remaining minute of the opening round trying to prevent Coenen from locking up the choke, landing short, chipping shots when she could.
Budd scored a relatively easy takedown, and landed in side control, within 13 seconds of the second frame. Coenen began to spin out, but Budd was instructed by her coach to lock up a D’Arce, and she obliged. Coenen was wise to the choke and ultimately moved to the bottom of full guard, but was never able to return to her feet in round 2, The top pressure of Budd stifled any submission attempts and presented no space for much of anything.
Coenen landed a solid right hand to open the third, but Budd was waiting to clinch up and work a takedown. Budd was able to maintain top control, but was not interested in doing much ground striking. Budd locked up an arm triangle, but Coenen hung tough and escaped. The output of ground strikes started to increase for Budd as the round came to an end.
Budd immediately secured a takedown the kick off the the fourth, and quickly moved to full mount. Budd began unloading punch after punch, elbow after elbow, and Coenen was unable to do anything about it. The referee gave Coenen every chance to escape the clutches of Budd, but he was forced to stop the bout as Julia Budd is Bellator’s very first women’s featherweight champion.
Fernando Gonzalez def. Brandon Girtz by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-27, 30-26): Catchweight of 174 pounds
Girtz wasted no time in finding a takedown, behind a right hand, in the opening minute of the fight. Gonzalez responded with a guillotine attempt, that ultimately led to the fighters returning to their feet. Girtz was able to land a few more takedowns throughout the opening round, but Gonzalez made it back to his feet each time.
Girtz opened the second stanza with another takedown, but once again, Gonzalez attacked the neck to get back to his feet. Rinse and repeat. Gonzalez was able to return to his feet multiple times, but was unable to mount much offense before getting put on his back. Gonzalez did rally towards the end of the second round as he began to connect with his strikes.
Gonzalez landed an inadvertent kick to the groin of Girtz that caused a pause in the first 30 seconds of the third round. When the action resumed, Gonzalez started moving forward with more urgency, as he started to let his hands go. Girtz secured another takedown, but really struggled to control his larger opponent. Gonzalez began to stuff the takedown in the final 2 minutes of the fight, and started to tee off on a winded Girtz. Girtz mustered up the energy for one last takedown, but Gonzalez went back to the choke to get back to his feet. The final bell sounded with both fighters trading on their feet, and Gonzalez was awarded the unanimous decision victory.
Justin Wren def. Roman Pizzolato by Submission at 2:35 of round 1: Heavyweight
Wren started out aggressive as he immediately initiated the clinch and executed a textbook lateral drop. Pizzolato made it back to his feet, but just to get suplexed by “The Big Pygmy.” Wren moved right into mount, dropped some elbows, and locked up an Arm Triangle to earn the first round submission. This is the best Wren has looked in a really long time.
Look at the lateral drop from Justin Wren:
Rafael Lovato Jr. def. Chris Hackmann by TKO at :13 of round 1: Catchweight of 195 pounds
Rafael Lovato Jr. wasted no time in picking up his first win under the Bellator promotion. Lovato landed a left head kick that wobbled Hackmann, and threw a pair of knees, which backed his opponent up to the fence. After a couple of Lovato uppercuts, the referee had seen enough and called the fight in just :13 of the first round.
Check out the 6th fastest finish in Bellator history:
Prelims: Streaming Online at 7:00 P.M. EST
Emmanuel Rivera def. Treston Thomison by Unanimous Decision: Catchweight of 150
Rivera routinely landed his left hand, just like this one that staggered Thomison:
Cody Pfister def. Jonathan Gary by Submission (RNC) at 4:04 of round 1: Lightweight
*** Pfister announced his retirement following his first round win.
Watch Pfister strangle Gary in the first round:
Emily Ducote def. Katy Collins by Submission (RNC) at 4:53 of round 1: (W) Flyweight
Gabrielle Holloway def. Alexis Dufresne by TKO at 2:53 of round 3: (W) Featherweight
Justin Patterson def. Jason Witt by TKO at :13 of round 3: Catchweight of 175
Watch Patterson throw his right hand with authority: