Bellator Signs Marloes Coenen & Julia Budd, Bout Set For Late 2014Under the leadership of former Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker and respected matchmaker Rich Chou, Bellator is set to bring female fighters back to its roster. Former Invicta FC featherweight stars Marloes “Rumina” Coenen and Julia “The Jewel” Budd have both signed with Bellator for 2014 debuts.

Bellator officials announced the signings today and also revealed plans for Coenen and Budd to face each other later this year on a Spike-televised card. Coenen has not fought since July 2013 when she was stopped again by Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino. Budd won all four of her Invicta FC bouts.

Coenen (21-6-0) is one of the most experienced female fighters in MMA today and her career dates back to late 2000, when she became a star while competing in Japan. The Dutch standout achieved her greatest success as a bantamweight in 2010 when she submitted then-champ Sarah Kaufman to claim the prestigious Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Championship.

Coenen relinquished the Strikeforce title to Miesha “Cupcake” Tate in her second defence, however, and she later signed on as the first athlete contracted to Invicta FC. She returned to featherweight and won her 145-pound debut for the promotion on the inaugural Invicta FC card, but suffered a second crushing loss to Justino in their Invicta FC Featherweight Championship rematch 13 months ago.

With Invicta FC announcing plans for Justino to drop down to the 135-pound bantamweight division, coupled with a lengthy layoff due to Invicta FC’s prolonged delay between events, Coenen received her release from the promotion and she now appears to be motivated to work with former Strikeforce leaders Coker and Chou once again. According to a statement released today, Coenen’s Bellator signing has brought back her spirit for fighting and she plans to finish her opponents in each Bellator fight.

Budd (6-2-0) endured a number of opponent changes during her time with Invicta FC due to injuries and other circumstances beyond her control, but she nevertheless went unbeaten during her time with the promotion and finished three of her four foes. The Muay Thai veteran and powerhouse wrestler has also developed some of the most vicious ground and pound of any woman in the 145-pound division.

Much like Coenen, Budd’s options with Invicta FC also became limited with the news that both Justino and top featherweight contender Ediane “India” Gomes – a one-time planned opponent for Budd – would be dropping down to bantamweight. Budd was then left with few, if any, marquee matchups with the promotion and she now looks for both a fresh start and a career-defining victory when she faces Coenen in the Bellator cage. A date and location for the Coenen-Budd matchup have not yet been announced.

The “re-launch” of women’s divisions within Bellator comes about mere weeks after it was announced that Coker would be taking over the helm as the new leader of the company. Joining him officially this week was his former right-hand man at Strikeforce, Chou, who resumes his duties as a matchmaker. Both Coker and Chou have been highly supportive of female fighters in MMA over the years and the team plans to restore depth of talent and fan interest in Bellator’s women’s division(s) once again.



(Photo Credit: Esther Lin, /

  1. Wonderful news, Bjorn should never have dissolved their WMMA divisions. Glad Coker sees that there still is a market for the ladies.