Cris Cyborg to make Bellator debut against Julia Budd in featherweight title fight

Cris Cyborg, left, will make her Bellator debut in January in a title fight against Julia Budd at The Forum in Southern California, marking her first fight since leaving the UFC. (Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Cris Cyborg is officially making her Bellator debut next year, and will have a title on the line when she first steps into the cage.

Cyborg will challenge Julia Budd, the Bellator women’s featherweight champion, on Jan. 25 at The Forum in Inglewood, California, they announced on Saturday night at Bellator 228. ESPN and the Los Angeles Times first reported the news on Friday.

Cyborg, whose real name is Cristiane Justino, left the UFC earlier this year after her contract expired. The former UFC featherweight champion reportedly signed the largest deal in women’s MMA history earlier this month, officially moving on after her rocky ending with UFC president Dana White. Cyborg demanded an apology from White for “bullying” her throughout the years, though she apologized to him for posting a doctored video online that inaccurately quoted him. White officially released Cyborg from her contract in August.

The 34-year-old currently holds a 21-2 record. Her only loss since her professional debut in 2005 came at the hands of Amanda Nunes in December, who knocked her out in the first round at UFC 232.

Budd boasts a 13-2 record, and has won 11 straight fights dating back to 2012 — including four with the Bellator featherweight belt on the line. She beat Olga Rubin by knockout in the first round of their fight at Bellator 224 in July. Her last loss was against Ronda Rousey in 2011.

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