Following Ilima-Lei Macfarlane’s succesful title defense at the Neal Blaisdell Center this past December, Bellator MMA President Scott Coker said that the organization fully intends to return to Hawaii annually.
On Thursday in Honolulu, that commitment to the islands was reiterated.
The undefeated flyweight champion along with UFC Hall of Famer and organization ambassador Royce Gracie hosted a free to the public self-defense seminar under the Bellator banner at the Blaisdell’s Exhibition Hall.
Fight enthusiasts of all ages were invited to share the mat with the icans prior to a meet and greet session where Macfarlane explained that Bellator has given her every indication that her triumphant night in Honolulu this past December was the first of many magical moments in the Aloha State.
“I almost feel like Bellator belongs to Hawaii, this is Hawaii’s promotion now so I was really excited when they said that they were flying us down. Is an opportunity to give back to the fans because we all know that the fans were the ones that made Bellator Hawaii possible, made it such an incredible and historic night. So it’s just our way of saying thank you for supporting us,” Macfarlane told KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello.
“Especially to be able to do this with a legend like Uncle Royce Gracie. We’re not only hanging out and taking pictures and everything but we are actually teaching, you are learning from a legend like Royce and hopefully a future legend in myself too,” added Macfarlane.
Although no official announcement has been made regarding Bellator’s return to Hawaii, all signs point towards another December event in Honolulu in 2019, and when DeMello asked if Macfarlane would advise any Hawaii residents to leave town around that time, she suggested to keep that month clear.
“I would say you might want to stick around. I kind of already hinted to my family, yeah I don’t think you guys should take any vacations to the mainland during December, so we’ll see what happens.”
Since her December victory over Valerie Letourneau as the headliner to debut event for Bellator in Hawaii, Macfarlane defeated Veta Arteaga at Bellator 220 on April 27 in San Jose, California via TKO due to a doctor’s stoppage in the third round.
The victory improved her career record to 10-0.