Know thy Enemy: Arlene Blencowe vs. Julia Budd

This weekend Australia’s own Arlene Blencowe (7-5) takes the long journey across the Pacific Ocean to fight against one of the world’s best female featherweights, Julia Budd (8-2). The fight will take place at Bellator 162 in Memphis, Tennessee.

The women’s featherweight division has long been ruled by dynamic striker Cristiane ‘Cyborg’ Justino who has demolished everyone she has faced for the better part of a decade. Whilst the pack that scrambles beneath her is ever growing, the top echelon of women who fight at 145lbs boast skill, experience, athleticism and an unwavering commitment to compete at the highest level of the sport.

Arlene Blencowe’s opponent Julia Budd truly exemplifies these characteristics, having been one of the world’s best female featherweights since her debut in 2010.  A victory against the experienced Budd would propel the Aussie towards the top of Bellator’s featherweight rankings and put her in immediate title contention.

One of Budd’s biggest advantages is her depth of experience. It might seem unusual to claim that a fighters key attribute is experience when they only have 10 fights, however prior to transitioning into MMA Budd had a successful Muay Thai career, racking up a professional record of 10-2. Furthermore, since making her MMA debut, Budd has faced the best of the best in opposition, experiencing what many called a baptism of fire when she entered the sport six years ago.

In Budd’s first four fights she fought two future UFC champions in Ronda Rousey and Amanda Nunes as well as current UFC veteran Germaine de Randamie. Whilst Budd ultimately lost to Rousey and Nunes she seemed to gain valuable experience from the contests, and hasn’t lost since 2011.

As well as possessing a wealth of experience Budd is truly an athletic specimen. Throughout her fights the Canadian has largely been able to out-muscle and physically dominate her opponents.

Coming from a Muay Thai background you might expect Budd to focus specifically on her stand-up fighting however where Budd seems most comfortable is in her wrestling and heavy top game. Throughout her recent fights Budd will come out with a jab or an inside low kick and then immediately look to duck under her opponent’s punches with a double or single leg, or clinch up against the cage.

Against the cage the Canadian will look to establish double underhooks and a dominant head position below her opponents head. This enables Budd to drop down to a single or double leg takedown without her opponent’s underhooks getting in the way. It is here that Budd’s tactical wrestling skills start to shine. If she is unable to secure the initial single or double leg attempt she will start to chain them together persistently until she is able to drag the fight to the floor.

Once the fight hits the ground Budd’s game is all about transitioning to the mount without losing position. She will look to avoid her opponent’s closed guard by either standing up and re-entering into half-guard, or by stacking her opponent against the fence and moving to half-guard. From half-guard Budd likes to utilise the knee slice pass to side-control. Her side-control game is all about poised aggression. She will chain together passing attempts, submission attempts and strikes relentlessly until she is able to establish knee on belly and slide through to mount. From mount Budd will look to pour on a tireless barrage of punches and elbows until her opponent succumbs or the round ends.

While Budd excels from top position she also has an innate ability to win grappling scrambles and transitions. The few times she has been put in a bad position in her recent fights she has been able to utilise her technical and athletic base to quickly regain top position or thwart her opponent’s takedown attempts.

If Blencowe can stop the barrage of takedown attempts and top pressure that Budd brings she will go along way to securing her most meaningful victory to date.

Jake Crane is a Melbourne based contributor for Fight News Australia.