Olga Rubin was faced with the biggest opportunity of her career so far back in July when she headlined a card opposite one of her idols, Julia Budd, with the women’s featherweight title on the line. Unfortunately for her, things didn’t work out the way she’d planned.
Just over two minutes into their fight, Budd connected with a kick to the body which stopped Rubin in her tracks and forced her to retreat against the cage. The featherweight champion crowded her immediately and unleashed a series of strikes that ended with a knee to Rubin’s already hurt body. The 30-year-old collapsed to the mat and the referee had seen enough. After weeks of hard preparation, Rubin’s title dreams where halted before she could even really get going and her undefeated run was over. She was really frustrated with her performance and knows that she could have done so much better.
“Obviously, I was absolutely crushed after my last fight,” said Rubin. “The feeling of under-performing is worse to me than the fact that I lost. It sucks that I couldn’t showcase my skills and abilities because it all happened so fast.”
Many fighters claim that a weight is lifted off of their shoulders after the first loss of their career as they no longer have the pressure of trying to maintain an undefeated record. However, this isn’t a theory that Rubin subscribes to because she always feels pressure to put on a show.
Rubin (6-1) is a member of the newly-formed Great Britain Top Team (GBTT) founded by Brad Pickett but they still don’t have a facility to train at yet. However, they still get to put in hard work together every day and she believes that the team is getting stronger by the day. The lady also known as ‘Big Bad’ works with some of London’s finest including Nathaniel Wood, Ashleigh Grimshaw and Mike Ekundayo. She has also trained alongside Richie Edwards, Wesley Maia, and Lone’er Kavanagh for this camp, and her main sparring partner has been Charlotte McIntyre, who makes her Bellator debut in London next weekend.
Before she aims to get another shot at the title, Rubin first wants to showcase her true abilities against the top women in the Bellator featherweight division. It is an exciting time for 145lbs women in the promotion due to the recent high-profile signings of Cris Cyborg and Cat Zingano. Rubin is delighted that Bellator are investing heavily in the division and can’t wait to continue testing herself against the best at her weight class.
“I honestly feel like my dream is coming true,” explained Rubin. “It’s so pleasing that I’m a member of a stacked division with talented featherweights who I looked up to when I first started training. I already can’t wait to watch Cyborg’s Bellator debut. Julia Budd is very well rounded, experienced and strong but I’m leaning towards Cyborg in that one. She doesn’t take any bulls—t and is just a straight killer. However, this is MMA and anything can happen - it can only take one shot!”
Rubin stumbled upon MMA when she was watching clips online and came across the Ronda Rousey v Miesha Tate rematch. It was the toughness and desire of Miesha Tate to withstand so many armbar attempts that inspired the recent title challenger and convinced her to start training.
Rubin was born in Moscow, Russia but immigrated to Holon, Israel in 1991 and she is looking forward to competing in her home country for the sixth time in her professional career.
“Man, the energy in Tel Aviv is something different,” discussed Rubin. “You can feel it the moment you enter the arena. There is nothing else like it. I love performing in-front of my home crowd.”
Israel has become a yearly stop off for Bellator since 2016 and the promotion return to Menora Mivtachim Arena on Thursday night for a show which is headlined by Sergei Kharitonov and Linton Vassell. However, the event can’t be watched live and instead will be available via tape delay on Friday night. During the evening’s preliminary action, Rubin will take on SBG Ireland’s, Sinead Kavanagh, who herself is coming off of a very close decision loss to Leslie Smith. Kavanagh (5-4) has won three of her five victories due to strikes and always brings a fan-pleasing style to the cage. This is a match-up that Rubin has been eyeing up for some time and she is predicting a stoppage one way or the other.
“I wanted to fight Sinead the moment I signed with Bellator,” stated Rubin. “She’s very aggressive and can take a punch as well as she can hit. I expect Sinead to be at her best for this fight and I can’t wait to step in the cage with her. May the real women’s BMF get her hand raised that night. I truly believe this is a fight for the fans and I’m pretty sure it will not go to a decision.”
Bellator 234 prelims can be streamed on the Bellator Mobile App from 11pm GMT for fans in the UK and Ireland on Friday night. Viewers in the US can watch at 6 p.m. ET.