Ilima-Lei Macfarlane makes the first defense of her flyweight title against Alejandra Lara at Bellator 201 on June 29.
Bellator’s Ilima-Lei Macfarlane became one of the stand-out fighters of 2017 when her 2-0 2017 campaign culminated with winning the inaugural women’s flyweight title. She will now begin her reign as champion with a defense of her title against Colombia’s Alejandra Lara at Bellator 201 in Temecula on June 29.
Macfarlane (7-0) was originally signed to Bellator in 2015 after just one professional fight, the now infamous bout where she dominated the overmatched “Soccer mom” Katie Castro. In the three years since then, she’s become one of the most popular up-and-coming fighters in the MMA world. She would face the top names available in Bellator, defeating Jessica Middleton and Emily Ducote and quickly becoming the front-runner to compete for the vacant championship.
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HERE IS MY BIG NEWS EVERYONE!!! But first a little backstory, cause you all I know I love to explain my life lol ❤️———————————————————————— Last summer I was in Panama with @intertribalyouth when I got the call from @bellatormma that I would be fighting for the belt. After I got off the phone I turned to my mentor and ITY program director, Marc Chavez, and said that if I won I would use a portion of my winnings to create a scholarship fund for native youth. A few months later, I won the belt. It was without a doubt that the stars had aligned for me to not only find ITY, but to find my purpose in this world. ———————————————————————— Indigenous issues has always been something that I've held close to my heart, and I am so fortunate to have a platform such as MMA to work with these communities. My mission with this scholarship is to provide young native girls a fighting chance to not only succeed, but to LIVE. Statistically, indigenous women and girls face the highest rates of violence and have some of the highest numbers of missing and murdered peoples. I want to give young native girls hope that there is more to this life than the one they know. I want to give them the confidence to fight back, the opportunity to see outside of the rez or the islands, and the strength to realize their divine feminine power. ———————————————————————— I am humbly asking my family, friends, fans and fellow fighters to not just help in my campaign, but to find a cause that resonates with you. It might not be the same cause as myself, but as I quoted yesterday, "Only a life lived in the service to others is a life worth living." I am so honored, humbled and privileged to announce that the campaign for the "Ilimanator Scholarship" has officially commenced. We are challenging anyone to match my scholarship of $2,000, but every little contribution helps even if it is just a repost or share. If you'd like to learn more about this project or donate to the cause, the link is in my bio. Mahalo mahalo MAHALO for the love and kokua 🙏🏽. #ilimanatorscholarship #fightingchance #nativelikewater #alohaainawarrior #indigenize
In the battle for the vacant title, Macfarlane overcame Ducote in a rematch to be crowned Bellator flyweight champion, notably weeks before the UFC would crown their inaugural champion in the same division. In the months since then, Macfarlane has been active in using her newfound platform, notably opening up the “Ilimanator Scholarship” that donates $2000 dollars to help indigenous youth attend “Education Enrichment Programs.” Per MMAFighting.com, Macfarlane said “If I can get one kid to come through this program and have this life-changing experience — because for me it was life-changing and I’m an adult. If I can get just one kid, then I’m happy.” Already, Macfarlane’s donation has been matched by Combate Americas star Kyra Batara.
Alejandra “Azul” Lara (7-1) has been a staple on the Colombian MMA circuit since 2011 where she opened her career at 4-0 with three first round finishes. She suffered her only career loss in 2015, against upcoming LFA title challenger Sabina Mazo. In 2017, she made her Bellator debut with a third round stoppage of veteran striker Lena Ovchynnikova.
Ovchynnikova was widely sign as one of the possible biggest threats to Macfarlane but Lara controlled the majority of the bout with impressive grappling, eventually finishing the Ukranian contender via submission in the third round. The victory also earned Lara a new long-term contract that figures to keep her in Bellator’s flyweight ranks for the foreseeable future.
Both women have shown impressive skills on the ground so the bout figures to possibly have excellent sequences when the fight goes to the mat. For Macfarlane, the bout would continue to build her reputation as one of the top female fighters in the world while Lara has the opportunity to score a huge upset over Bellator’s homegrown star.
Tickets for the event are set to go on sale on Friday, April 06.