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Marloes Coenen says it was 'big shock' that Bellator initially wanted women's title fight on prelims

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Bellator MMA

Things have changed considerably for Marloes Coenen in recent weeks. She has a new opponent, there will be no title on the line and the card placement of her fight has been altered.

Initially, though, the Dutch women's MMA star found it to be a head scratcher that Bellator wanted what would have been a women's featherweight title fight between her and Julia Budd on the prelims of Bellator 155.

"It was a big shock to me," Coenen told MMA Fighting. "I know it wasn't [Bellator president] Scott [Coker], because when I was in Strikeforce I was always co-main event. I was like, 'What's going on? What's happening?'"

Bellator got questions like that, too, from fans and media. The promotion said in a statement that it wanted to put the title fight on the prelims to build an audience for the Bellator.com online stream. That still didn't really satisfy Coenen, a pioneer in women's mixed martial arts.

"I don't know who did it," Coenen said. "Even from a business point of view, women in MMA are so popular. If you have women on the roster, I would put them on the main card."

Coenen (23-6) will be on the main card now. It just won't be against Budd, who pulled out with a back injury earlier this month. Coenen will now face former UFC fighter Alexis Dufresne in a non-title bout on the Spike TV main card of Bellator 155 on Friday night in Boise, Idaho. The inaugural Bellator women's featherweight title will remain vacant for now.

"It was a big bummer to me when I heard she had a back problem," Coenen said. "But I was already training so hard. A few days later, Bellator offered me the fight and I was like, 'I want to fight anyway, even if it's not for the title.'"

Coenen, 35, has been a pro MMA fighter since 2000. She has fought the likes of Cris Cyborg (twice), Miesha Tate, Sarah Kaufman, Liz Carmouche and Roxanne Modafferi in her decorated career. Her only losses going back to 2009 have come against Cyborg and Tate, the UFC women's bantamweight champion.

But Coenen has not been as busy lately as she has wanted to be, which is one of the reasons why she said she left Invicta FC for Bellator in 2014. She still has only fought twice for Bellator, just once per year so far. That's why she's hoping to beat Dufresne and come back for a title fight against Budd in August.

"I'm not the youngest anymore," Coenen said. "I just want to stay active."

Coenen is far and away regarded as the second best women's featherweight in the world after Cyborg. The division has thinned out, though, which has contributed to Coenen not getting as many fights.

She certainly doesn't have to do this anymore with everything she has accomplished, but Coenen said she still loves the MMA game and continues to set goals for herself.

"I'm getting the chance at the Bellator belt," Coenen said. "I have to wait a little longer now, but I will get it and that's really what my focus is on."

Which is why even though she didn't love initially being on the prelims, she was going to take what Bellator gave her. The title is more important.

"Basically, they're my boss, so I have to do whatever they want me to do," Coenen said. "If they want to keep me on the prelims, if they want to put me on the first fight when nobody is in the venue, I'll still be fighting. I don't care. It's for the fight for me. But if you can choose where to fight, especially sponsor wise, it's better to be on the main card."