According to an Aug. 14 report from MMA Junkie, Bellator higher-ups have decided to bring back its female division, less than a year after getting rid of it. On the afternoon of Aug. 14, Bellator announced the signings of Strikeforce and Invicta FC alums Marloes Coenen and Julia Budd. In the past, Bellator MMA featured several high-level strawweight fights.
Plenty of top female athletes competed under the Bellator MMA banner, including Felice Herrig, Jessica Eye and Heather Jo Clark. However, it appears Bellator is now trying to corner the 145-pound market, a division that the UFC doesn't currently have. Will the featherweight division be a success in Bellator? That seems quite likely, since there are plenty of marketable superstars in the division.
Bellator MMA has brought back the women’s division with two of MMA’s top 145-pounders leading the way. Bellator MMA President Scott Coker has had success in the women's aspect of the MMA game during her past tenure with Strikeforce, so it makes sense why he would want to bring Coenen and Budd in. Coenen and Budd both competed under Coker's watch, during his time in Strikeforce. He's quite familiar with both women.
A former Strikeforce champ and Remix World Cup Champion, Coenen has notched 21 wins in her storied career, with 15 wins coming by submission and 12 in the opening frame of action. She is currently ranked as the No. 2 featherweight in the world, just behind Cris Santos.
As for Budd, she is a 31-year-old superstar from Canada. She is riding a four-fight win streak and is ranked number three in the world at 145 pounds. Budd previously competed under the Strikeforce and Invicta FC banners. No word yet on when Budd and Coenen will be making their Bellator MMA debuts.
Bellator says Coenen and Budd will be making their promotional debuts later this year on Spike TV, but no official date has been announced. Besides their elite cage-fighting skills, Budd and Coenen are easy on the eyes. It helps that they are great fighters, but also boosts their marketability that they are so good-looking. Coker has an eye for talent, but he has an even bigger eye for future stars. Props to Bellator for bringing the women's division back.
Of course, the question to ask now is if Bellator will be bringing Santos aboard. They might also try to sign Gina Carano. It's unlikely that Bellator would do a one-off fight with Coenen against Budd. They will want to create a full division of it, so picking up Carano would obviously be the main goal. Other athletes who might be available for Bellator's 145-pound division include Ediane Gomes and Veronica Rothenhausler.