Those who doubted Alejandra Lara’s place in the Bellator 201 main event had their disapproval rebuked on Friday night, but it was champ Ilima-Lei Macfarlane coming out on top.
The main event of Bellator 201 in Temecula, CA on Friday topped a night that was all about giving female fighters the spotlight. The card started with eight talented women, and though a blown weight cut by opponent Paola Ramirez knocked Kristi Lopez off the card, there were still three big fights for the ladies to demonstrate their skills in. Those included Valerie Letourneau and Kristina Williams earlier on the main card, and of course Ilima-Lei Macfarlane defending her women’s flyweight world title against Alejandra Lara.
The pair clinched almost immediately, but that would not last, and soon they were trading blows. A second clinch saw Macfarlane try to throw the challenger, only for Lara to land on top. Ilima-Lei brought her leg up across the back of her opponent’s neck, looking for a triangle. She’d follow through on the attempt, but Alejandra Lara spun out of danger. An arm-bar attempt followed, with another triangle in tow. The second triangle attempt was tight, but Lara was able to wait it out, eventually freeing herself then transitioning to Macfarlane’s back in a scramble. Lara moved to side control, then north-south as Macfarlane kept active on the bottom, and landed some big knees as the champ forced her way up in the final seconds of the round.
Round two saw Alejandra Lara driving the champ into the fence after an early exchange. She threw an elbow off the break; Macfarlane then mimicked Lara’s earlier attack, pressing Lara into the cage. Lara, however, reversed. Adding in a few knees for good measure. A throw by Macfarlane would bring an end to the grappling exchange, and this time, it was the champ coming up on top. She looked to pass guard, while Lara trapped a leg. From half-guard, though, Macfarlane dropped elbows to the side of her opponent’s head. The champion would make her way to Lara’s back, looking to sink in a hook to set up a rear-naked choke. However, time was winding down in the round, and Lara had nearly escaped the position anyway.
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The third round saw the action on the feet last for the first minute, both women throwing single shots but not really launching combos. About a minute in the champion then wrenched Lara down after clasping her hands around the Colombian’s waist. Getting the fight to the ground allowed her to take the back, looking for a rear-naked choke. Alejandra Lara was able to escape that position, however, only to wind up with Macfarlane on top of her. The champion moved to mount, dropping a big elbow on Lara then latching on to an arm-bar. The arm-bar was nasty, but Lara used her long, agile legs to break up the hold a number of times. When Macfarlane adjusted and made the hold even tighter, Lara rolled with the hold, lasting an impressive amount of time.
The challenger, game though she might be, could not escape the round. Ilima-Lei Macfarlane continued to wrench on Lara’s arm, and she was finally forced to tap!
After the fight, which marked Macfarlane’s first title defense, the champion agreed that it should be Valerie Letourneau up next. She had one small request however, she said — a trip to her home town. “I want a Bellator Hawaii. Lets take all this back home to the islands!” she called out in the cage.
Ilima-Lei Macfarlane def. Alejandra Lara by submission (arm-bar), Round 3, 3:55