02/12/2015 07:00 EST | Updated 04/14/2015 05:59 EDT

Canadian featherweight Julia Budd ready to blossom with Bellator promotion

TORONTO - After a 14-month absence, Canadian featherweight Julia Budd returns to action Friday under the Bellator banner.

The 31-year-old from Port Moody, B.C., takes on American Gabrielle Holloway at Bellator 133, a televised card in Fresno, Calif.

Former Bellator middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko (51-9) faces Melvin Manhoef (29-12-1) in the main event at the Save Mart Center. Featherweight Pat Curran (20-6) meets Daniel Weichel (34-8) in the co-main event.

Budd (6-2) last fought in December 2013, winning a unanimous decision over fellow Canadian Charmaine Tweet on an Invicta card.

It was her fourth straight win in Invicta. But rather than keep the momentum rolling, Budd opted to step back from the sport.

"My last performance, after looking at it with my coaches, we wanted to build on some areas to get better," she said.

She took time to travel and visit family but also kept training. There was no one hole in her game, she said. Instead she wanted to work on linking her skills, to improve her transition from one thing to another.

"I feel the year off was a chance to work on a lot of stuff that I needed to get better at and make my strengths even stronger," she said.

Budd's decision to join Bellator when ready to return was eased by the presence of Scott Coker at the organization's helm. Coker was in charge of Strikeforce where Budd fought at the start of her MMA career.

Budd went 2-2 in Strikeforce, beating Shana Nelsen and Germaine de Randamie and losing to future UFC bantamweight champion (Rowdy) Ronda Rousey and Amanda Nunes.

Her June 2011 win over de Randamie on a Strikeforce Challengers card in Kent, Wash., made MMA history. It was the first women's MMA fight under the Zuffa banner since the UFC's parent company took over Strikeforce in March of that year.

The win also allowed Budd, a former Canadian Muay Thai champion with an 11-1 record, to avenge the lone loss of her Muay Thai career (to de Randamie in 2009).

Budd, a nutritionist and personal trainer, was originally slated to meet unbeaten Brazilian Talita Nogueira on the Bellator card. But an injury brought in Holloway (4-1) on short notice.

At five foot eight, Budd will have a five-inch reach advantage.


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