Hawaii’s Ilima-Lei Macfarlane ready to defend Bellator title away from home in December


Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (Courtesy Bellator)

Ilima-Lei Macfarlane’s next opportunity to defend her Bellator flyweight women’s title will come on Dec. 10 against Juliana Velasquez at Bellator 254 in Uncasville, Conn.

Both fighters will enter the cage at the Mohegan Sun Arena with unblemished records — Macfarlane is 11-0 in her career while Velasquez, who hails from Brazil, is 10-0.

[Latest stories from Hawaii’s Sports Station — KHON2 Sports]

“I’ve been intrigued for a long time,” Macfarlane told KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello. “She’s definitely been on my radar, obviously. I actually think that she made a strong case for the belt a couple fights ago. It’s finally here, it’s finally happening, so I think this is the fight that a lot of fans have been waiting for.”

In separate bouts, Macfarlane and Velasquez each fought most recently at Bellator 236, which was headlined by Macfarlane at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center last December.

Although the announcement of Bellator 254 virtually eliminates the possibility of a Bellator event held on the islands for the third consecutive year, Macfarlane welcomes an opportunity to fight without everything that comes with having a bout on her home turf.

“It is bittersweet,” she said. “I love coming home and everybody is actually kind of worried about this upcoming fight because they know that the energy of the audience is typically on my side and I kind of feed off that energy, especially with my walkout and fighting in my hometown. But I actually kind of look at it, there’s a silver lining to that also.

“There’s no more pressure. I’m not fighting in my hometown, I don’t have a bunch of added distractions, so that’s kind of nice that’s it’s just gonna be get in there, get it done. You just have your corner, you just have a couple people there and the celebration afterwards will probably be just at the casino at a restaurant they have which is nice. Those are like my early days, my early amateur days, so it’s kind of nice to go back to that.”

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