Less than four months after suffering and recovering from a neck injury in a loss in Hawaii, former Bellator flyweight champion Ilima-Lei Macfarlane returns to action this weekend in South Dakota.
The organization’s first ever 125-pound female champion will fight on the Bellator 284 main card against Bruna Ellen.
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In her most recent fight, Macfarlane lost to Justine Kish in April at the Neal Blaisdell Center, where she suffered a neck injury early in the decision loss.
At 32 and having battled knee and neck injuries in recent years, the Punahou graduate is experiencing the first losing streak of her career. Macfarlane enters the bout 11-2 in her career with four successful title defenses on her resume and does see a path for returning to the top of the division. However, if everything goe as planned, the mission won’t be to defend the title. Instead, it would be to walk away after winning a championship bout one last time before walking away.
“I’m not in a huge rush right now to go for the belt. I’m kind of listening to my body and seeing what I am able to do and so, yeah, I’m trying to be more strategic with the fight camps because at the end of the day, my body is not able to sustain the level of training required for a title shot at the moment,” Macfarlane told KHON2’s Alan Hoshida. “Ideally, I have four fights left on my contract. I do want to fight out these next three fights and then like my last fight on the contract, OK, let’s go for the belt. All eggs in one basket and go for it, like this is my last fight.”
The first steps for that plan will start on Friday against Bruna Ellen. Macfarlane’s unranked opponent enters the bout 6-3 in her career.
The main card of Bellator 284 has a start time of 3 p.m. HST and will be televised on Showtime.