Arlene Blencowe might not have been anywhere near 100 percent in her first fight Julia Budd last year, but she won’t use her health as an excuse for defeat.
The 34-year-old Australian lost a majority decision to Budd at Bellator 162 in October 2016. It wasn’t a bad effort considering that Blencowe was essentially fighting on one leg.
“Six weeks out of that fight camp I received a torn MCL and ACL through training. A lot of people probably would have pulled out of the fight,” Blencowe told Sherdog.com. “Because of how my year had already gone — because I hadn’t been matched any fights and I had some boxing world title fights fall through —I really wanted to step in the cage and fight. I guess the biggest thing I learned from that fight camp and the fight itself is just how strong my mind is. I guess I see what I’m capable of doing.”
In fact, Blencowe says she can’t remember even being hindered by the injury over the course of the fight.
“I was actually surprised because you would’ve watched the fight and [seen that] I was standing and striking. I was throwing my kicks. I was moving around…At no stage did I think about my knee injury,” she said. “It wasn’t even a thought in my mind. I guess during that fight camp I wasn’t able to do a lot of the wrestling classes and BJJ classes just because of the range of movement I had in my knee.”
Budd would go on to defeat Marloes Coenen via fourth-round technical knockout in her next outing to claim the inaugural featherweight crown this past March. It was a lopsided victory for Budd, whose only two career setbacks were against Ronda Rousey and Amanda Nunes. Blencowe wasn’t necessarily expecting a title shot following her split-decision win over Sinead Kavanagh at Bellator 182, but now she will square off against Budd in the Bellator 189 headliner on Friday night. The card airs on Spike at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT.
“I knew I was the highest ranked featherweight underneath Julia. There are other girls in Bellator that probably could have been given the shot, but I’m more than happy to step back and wait my chance. I wasn’t pushing for it,” she said. “I was pushing for another fight to finish the year. It wasn’t necessarily the title fight. Once Bellator presented my manager with the fight, I wasn’t turning it down.”
Although she wasn’t impressed with her performance at the time, Blencowe can look back at her initial bout with Budd and take away some positives.
“I didn’t realize until I watched the video how close it was,” she said. “I’m always my hardest and worst critic, so I felt a lot worse in the fight than I actually was. After watching it I realized how close it was, and this time I’ll be coming away with a win.”