Port Moody’s fighting Gibson’s are ready for their Hollywood spotlight. Although it will likely go through Oklahoma first.
That’s where Julia Budd will defend her Bellator mixed martial arts world featherweight championship for a fourth time, at the WinStar World Casino and Resort, in Thackerville, OK., on July 12. The main event feature will come shortly before, or after, Budd’s 24-year-old step son, Lance Gibson Jr. makes his debut on the Bellator MMA circuit.
The bouts could be a taste of what’s to come, as mom and step son hope to appear on the same card sometime in 2020.
That’s sure to be a proud — if somewhat nerve-wracking — moment for the blended family’s patriarch, Lance Gibson, himself an MMA pioneer who won four fights and lost five from 1997 to 2002, including two bouts with the UFC, the sport’s top-tier promoter.
“It follows our family legacy,” said Gibson Sr., who now runs Gibson MMA gym on Kyle Street in Port Moody.
That’s where he met Budd, who’d been a competitive kickboxer since 2001 when she was growing up on the Sunshine Coast.
After a break from the sport, Budd added wrestling and grappling to her combat repertoire and she began travelling to Port Moody to train, from the University of British Columbia where she was studying.
Budd had compiled nine wins against only two losses when, in 2017, she won the first women’s featherweight title belt to be awarded by Bellator MMA. The California-based subsidiary of media giant Viacom is considered the second-biggest promoter of the sport, after the UFC.
“I jumped into the deep end,” she said.
A regular bystander at Budd’s workouts was Lance Jr., a mat rat who had been accompanying his dad to the gym and bouts since he was a month old in his car seat.
By the time Lance Jr. was two, he was hitting the heavy bag himself, and he was helping work the corner of other pro fighters before he was four years-old.
“It’s in my DNA,” said Gibson Jr., who started fighting himself when he was 17 and recently won his second professional bout in just three minutes, on a card in Abbotsford. “I feel I was born to do this.”
Training with his stepmom made sense, said Gibson Jr., who, as a lightweight, weighs just 10 pounds more than Budd.
He said he has much to learn from her experience, while Budd strives to match his technical abilities in the cage.
“He wants to master every technique,” Budd said. “He pushes me not to be sloppy.”
Gibson Sr. said he has no qualms about both the people who mean the most to him putting their well-being on the line in the caged octagon. After all, he’s been there himself, so he knows the sport’s risks and rewards.
And keeping the business in the family will likely bring more of the latter.
“If you stick to your integrity and be a martial artist, it ensures you stay grounded,” Gibson Sr. said. “We’ll be able to navigate our own family’s story.”