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Bellator 238 live blog: Julia Budd vs. Cris Cyborg

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Julia Budd faces off with Cris Cyborg ahead of their featherweight championship main event bout at Bellator 238 in Inglewood, Calif., on Saturday
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

This is the Bellator 238 live blog for Julia Budd vs. Cris Cyborg, the featherweight headliner for Saturday’s fight card at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif.

Featherweight champ Julia Budd attempts her fourth title defense in a pivotal bout against ex-UFC champ Cris Cyborg, who makes her Bellator debut after leaving the industry-leader this past year.

Check out the Bellator 238 live blog below.

Round 1: Cyborg comes in hot, firing punches to press Budd against the cage. Budd turns her, but can’t hold the position. Cyborg turns her and pops her in the head with a knee. Cyborg escapes to open range and gets a trip takedown. Budd powers up and gets pushed back to the cage. Cyborg explodes off the fence and lands knees in close. She backs up and slips on a high kick. Budd attempts to capitalize and falls straight into a triangle choke attempt. That misses, as does an armbar. Cyborg gets to her feet, and Budd lands an illegal knee. Round paused to warn Budd. After the restart, Cyborg drops Budd with a straight right and ends the frame with a flurry of ground and pound.

MMA Fighting scores the round 10-9 Cyborg.

Round 2: Cyborg is all over Budd at the start of the fight, pushing to her back against the fence. Now, Cyborg is in control, but Budd manages a couple of knees and peels off. At open range, Budd takes a couple of punches as Cyborg comes back in. Cyborg teeing off at close range. Budd tries a few lead elbows before things get tied up again. Action stalls as both fighters catch their breath. Cyborg goes to work with knees, and Budd tries to turn her against the fence. Cyborg backs off and resets, and both pop low kicks. Budd lands a successful combo and lands a nice front kick. She comes back in and ties up hoping to smother Cyborg against the fence. Instead, she gets turned again. A brief plumb is broken by Cyborg, who goes back to working knees. Cyborg explodes with a flurry of knees and elbows before backing up. They go back to the legs, and it seems both have slowed down a little bit. Budd breaks the silence with a single leg attempt. Cyborg rewards it with a knee to the head and hard kick.

MMA Fighting scores the round 10-9 Cyborg.

Round 3: The pair tie up early and move to the fence, where they trade knees and position against the cage. It’s a battle for position as both attempt to control against the fence. Budd reaches for a leg and gives it up. Cyborg backs off and lands an elbow and knee before resetting. Budd pops a jab and front kick, and Cyborg repays it with a hard flurry that bowls her over. On top in Budd’s guard, Cyborg postures up and pounds away with punches. Budd kicks her off, and Cyborg kicks the legs. Cyborg hurls down a big right and passes the guard to end up in side control. Cyborg elbows the body and set up for elbows. Cyborg goes knee on belly and then mounts. She pounds away until the bell stops the beating.

MMA Fighting scores the round 10-8 Cyborg.

Round 4: It’s do or die time for Budd, whose corner is very angry at her. She goes high with a kick and tries to keep space to strike at distance. Cyborg biding her time. She explodes in with a flurry of shots, going to the legs and head with fearsome speed. Budd is eating them all and in deep trouble. Cyborg keeps hammering away, going high and low, until a shot catches Budd to the body and sinks her to the mat. Fight over, and a new champion.

Official result: Cris Cyborg def. Julia Budd via TKO (strikes) - Round 4, 1:14