HONOLULU (KHON2) - Fight week in the Aloha State kicked off Wednesday as Bellator Hawaii pre-event festivities got underway.
Hundreds of fans packed Hilton Hawaiian Village's Great Lawn, where the six headliners for Bellator 212 and 213 put on a show.
Punahou graduate Ilima-Lei Macfarlane is looking to be the second Hawaii native to successfully defend a world title this month, after Waianae's Max Holloway retained his UFC featherweight crown in Toronto last Saturday.
This week, Holloway has three Gracie Technics teammates on the Bellator card - flyweight Michael "Smash Boy" Nakagawa, featherweight Edward "The Promise" Thommes, and Maki Pitolo - looking to keep the Blessed express chugging along.
"He's a champ for a reason," said Nakagawa. "His mental game is like none other. I've trained with the best guys in the world in Sacramento and whatnot too, but he's just a special guy. He's the smartest guy I know, and his confidence is off the roof, and he always checks me. There's a fine line between being confident and arrogant, so he always checking all of us and we're very thankful for him."
"I love the team that I'm on that we have. We're a small brotherhood and I get to train with the best in the world, Max Holloway, Yancy Medeiros. Even the guys that you haven't heard of yet, that haven't fought in the big show but are just as talented," said Thommes. "Some of us, such as Maki Pitolo and Michael Nakagawa, we're finally able to showcase our skills on this bigger stage, and we're looking forward to getting our names out there as well. Just for any Hawaii fighter to be on an A-level platform for any sport is a big opportunity, because even though we come from such a small state, in just this island in general, we have such a crazy amount of talent. It's awesome that we're finally getting the opportunity in this generation to showcase that."
A total of 24 Hawaii fighters are taking part in Bellator's two events this weekend.
Bellator and USO Hawaii present Salute the Troops (Bellator 212) on Friday, which will be headlined by Michael Chandler and lightweight champion Brent Primus.
Bellator 213 takes place Saturday starting at 3:30 p.m. Macfarlane defends her flyweight championship Saturday night against MMA veteran Valerie Letourneau in the headline fight.
Both take place at the Neal S. Blaisdell Arena. Tickets for Bellator 213 are available online here.
Bellator 212 Fight Card
Bellator Lightweight Championship:
Brent Primus (8-0-0) vs. Michael 'Iron' Chandler (18-4-0)
Frank Mir (18-12-0) vs. Javy 'Eye Candy' Ayala (10-7-0)
Alejandra 'Azul' Lara (7-2-0) vs. Juliana Velasquez (7-0-0)
Sam Sicilia (16-9-0) vs. Derek 'The Stallion' Campos (19-7-0)
A.J. 'Mercenary' McKee (12-0-0) vs. Daniel Crawford (10-2-0)
Brandon Pieper (10-10-0) vs. Chris Avila (5-7-0)
Robson Gracie Jr. (0-0-0) vs. Bryson Bolohao (0-0-0)
Toby '2 Quick' Misech (9-5-0) vs. Edward 'The Promise' Thommes (7-2-0)
Tywan 'Speedy' Claxton (3-0-0) vs. Kaeo Meyer (3-3-0)
Paul Lopes (1-4-0) vs. Nicholas 'Nick' Badis (0-0-0)
Bellator 213 Fight Card
Bellator Women's Flyweight Championship:
Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (8-0-0) vs. Valerie 'Trouble' Letourneau (10-6-0)
Lyoto 'The Dragon' Machida (24-8-0) vs. Rafael Carvalho (15-2-0)
Neiman Gracie (8-0-0) vs. Ed 'Easy' Ruth (6-0-0)
Muhammed 'King Mo' Lawal (21-7-0) vs. Liam McGeary (12-3-0)
Nainoa Dung (1-0-0) vs. Kona Oliveira (1-0-0)
Timothy Teves (2-0-0) vs. Canaan Kawaihae (4-1-0)
Kai Kamaka III (4-2-0) vs. Shojin 'Mini Margarito' Miki (4-3-0)
Ryan Dela Cruz (7-6-0) vs. Spencer 'Masaru' Higa (5-8-0)
Dustin Barca (1-0-0) vs. Isaac Hopps (4-3-0)
Kala 'Kolohe' Hose (7-6-0) vs. Marcus Gamble (2-0-0)
Maki 'Coconut Bombz' Pitolo (9-4-0) vs. Chris 'The Maverick' Cisneros (17-8-0)
Russell 'Da Muscle' Mizuguchi (4-0-0) vs. Michael 'Smash Boy ' Nakagawa (6-3-0)