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Julia Budd took less than half a round to turn away the latest challenger to her Bellator MMA featherweight title.
"The Jewel" (13-2) crumpled challenger Olga Rubin (6-1) with a picture-perfect right crescent kick to the body two minutes into the first round of their headlining fight at Bellator 224 Friday night in Thackerville, Oklahoma. Rubin doubled over in obvious pain and Budd followed up with punches, chasing Rubin to the fence. A final knee to the head from the clinch spurred referee Jason Herzog into action, awarding Budd the TKO win at 2:14 of the first round.
After the fight, Budd expressed her interest in fighting Leslie Smith, who made a successful return to the Bellator cage earlier in the evening. She also stated her wish to fight 225-pound Gabi Garcia, perhaps as part of the ongoing cooperative effort between Bellator and Rizin FF.
Carvalho Edges Njokuani
Rafael Carvalho (16-3) halted the first losing streak of his career, defeating Chidi Njokuani (18-7) via unanimous decision in a 190-pound catchweight contest. The fight was a closely-contested and somewhat slow-paced affair, with both men content to exchange single strikes in open space and clinch against the fence for extended periods. Nonethless, the victory maintains returns Carvalho to winning ways after consecutive losses to Lyoto Machida and Gegard Mousasi in his last two outings.
Velasquez Mauls Williams, Lands Likely Title Shot
Juliana Velasquez moved to 9-0 with a second-round stoppage of Kristina Williams (3-2) and, if champ Ilima-Lei Macfarlane is to be believed, may have stamped her passport to a shot at the Bellator flyweight belt. Despite her black belt in judo, Velasquez was content to conduct the entire fight on the feet, where she landed the more and harder blows on the taekwondo black belt and former amateur kickboxer. Williams wilted under a final flurry of punches and kicks at 4:03 of Round 2.
Ruth Pummels Kunimoto
Ed Ruth (7-1) righted the ship after his first professional loss, busting up Kiichi Kunimoto (20-8-2, 1 NC) with heavy ground-and-pound in the second round of their welterweight feature. Three-time NCAA wrestling champ Ruth was the dominant man throughout, but the beginning of the end came with a knee strike that dazed the Japanese veteran. Ruth followed him down and blasted him with punches until referee Todd Anderson pulled him off at 3:49.
Prelims: Nainoa Dung Stays Perfect Despite Two-Point Deduction
Lightweight prospect Nainoa Dung (3-0) defeated Brad Robison (0-1) in a fight that was far closer on the scorecards than it looked in the cage thanks to a foul. In the third round, Dung threw a kick that struck the seated Robison in the face. Referee Todd Anderson deducted two points for the kick, but the Hawaiian prevailed via unanimous 28-27 scorecards nonetheless.
Multi-time world champion kickboxer Gabriel Varga made a successful MMA debut, folding fellow debutant Jamese Taylor with second-round strikes. After a rocky first round, Varga found his rhythm and range in the second, blasting Taylor with body shots and finishing him with a clean jumping knee against the fence.
Local featherweight Mike Jackson (12-10) picked up a win over previously undefeated Kiefer Crosbie via first-round disqualification, as the Irish prospect flattened Jackson with a knee to the head while grounded. With the loss, Crosbie goes to 6-1.
In her first fight since her highly-publicized ouster from the UFC last year, Leslie Smith (11-7-1) edged out Sinead Kavanagh (5-4) by majority decision in an action-packed featherweight affair. For three rounds, "The Peacemaker" and "KO" slugged it out on the feet, with both women having moments of momentum. In the end, the judges awarded Smith the fight via 29-28 (twice) and 28-28 scorecards.
Jordan Young kept his perfect record at the expense of another undefeated fighter in Joel Bauman (now 3-1), cinching the fight-ending triangle choke at 3:20 of the first round. With the easy win, Young moves to 12-0 in his career, the last seven wins coming inside the Bellator cage.
In a battle of Top-10 featherweights, Arlene Blencowe (12-8) blew out Amanda Bell (6-6) in less time than it took her to walk to the cage. The aptly-named "Angerfist" caught Bell with a right hook behind the ear in the very first exchange, buckling her knees. Bell used a desperate single-leg to survive and get back to her feet, but Blencowe kept pouring it on and referee Jason Herzog was forced to intervene at 22 seconds of Round 1.
In other preliminary action, SBG Ireland product Will Fleury defeated Antonio Jones via unanimous decision in a 190-pound catchweight fight; A.J. Agazarm dispatched Jacob Landin with a rear-naked choke at 4:21 of the first round of their lightweight clash; and in the light heavyweight opener, Christian Edwards needed only 54 seconds to punch out Justin Vargas.