Bellator is getting back into the Women’s MMA business. Today the promotion announced that they have signed featherweights, Marloes Coenen and Julia Budd to their roster. The two are expected to meet in the cage at a later date.
“We’re incredibly excited to bring in two of the best athletes competing in our sport today,” Bellator President Scott Coker said in a statement. “We are making a commitment to bring back the female division to Bellator, and feature some of the world’s best in the Bellator cage.”
Marloes Coenen (21-6) is a former Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champion, and is currently the 2nd ranked women’s featherweight in the world according to MMARising’s Unified Women’s MMA Rankings.
Coenen is one of the best grapplers in women’s MMA, having 15 submission wins to her record. She defeat Sarah Kaufman to capture the Strikeforce title back in 2010 and successfully defended it against Liz Carmouche. But would lose the belt to Miesha Tate in her next bout. Coenen last competed in Invicta FC, losing a rematch to Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino.
“After fighting professionally for over 15 years, I am honored to be invited into the Bellator cage,” Coenen said. “Fighting for Bellator brings my spirit back for fighting! It is great to be working together with Scott Coker again as we both have the same vision on fighting. My style is fighting with the objective to knock my opponent out or to submit her. That is exactly what I am planning to do the very first second I step into the Bellator cage.”
Julia Budd (6-2), also a veteran of Strikeforce and Invicta FC, is currently the 3rd ranked women’s featherweight in the world. She is currently riding a 4-fight winning streak—undefeated in Invicta FC—with wins over Elina Nilsson, Danielle West, Mollie Estes, and Charmaine Tweet.
Budd was also one of Ronda Rousey’s early opponents in Strikeforce, losing by armbar. Her other loss came against Amanda Nunes. While her most impressive win in Strikeforce was against kickboxer, Germaine de Randamie.
“I’m ecstatic about the opportunity that Bellator is giving the 145 female division and I’m especially excited to be one of the first females to fight for Scott Coker under the Bellator banner,” Budd said. “This gives me the opportunity to showcase my skills as one of the best fighters in the world on one of the biggest stages in the world.”
Bellator had previously held fights in various women’s divisions, and housed fighters such as Jessica Aguilar, Holly Holm, Megumi Fuji, Zolia Gurgel, and Jessica Eye competing on their roster. The last women’s MMA bout held in Bellator was at Bellator 94, with Jessica Aguilar defeating Patricia Vidonic. Bellator dissolved their women’s divisions in 2013, releasing the last of their fighters under contract.