Ilima-Lei Macfarlane stopped by Bellator 219 to talk about her fight with Veta Arteaga, walkouts, fighting in San Jose and more.
Temecula, CA — You can’t always fight at home, and Bellator’s Ilima-Lei Macfarlane understands that. Which is why she has no problem defending her women’s flyweight title in San Jose, rather than holding out for a second fight in Hawaii.
Of course, Macfarlane headlined Bellator: Hawaii in December, picking up the biggest win of her career to date against Valerie Letourneau. But there’s no letdown following up Bellator Hawaii with a fight in California, Ilima-Lei told media outlets backstage at Bellator 219 over the weekend. “Obviously, Bellator Hawaii was beyond my wildest dreams, it was the perfect fairy tale story and everything. But San Jose is a completely different fight, a different scene, a different walkout — of course my walkout’s going to be bomb.” Spoiler: the theme of her next walkout will be water, and Hawaiian waves.
With San Jose, Macfarlane is excited for a different vibe, and to face opponent Veta Arteaga. “I was totally not surprised when it was announced. I thought Veta — she’s been on a rip right now, she’s been performing. So I was actually expecting to get Veta.”
“It’s interesting, because of course I’m nervous before all my fights. I was especially nervous for the Valerie fight,” ‘The Iliminator’ added. “And you know with Veta, I’m just excited, and not because I’m overlooking her or anything. I just think it’s going to be an exciting fight.”
“Of course, I’ll probably get nervous as the day gets closer, but right now, I’m just so pumped, I’m ready to go.”
At this point in her career, Macfarlane said, she has nothing to prove, which might make the excitement come easier. She simply plans on fighting smart, not playing into Arteaga’s hand. “I don’t feel like I need to stand and brawl with a brawler.”
As Macfarlane has moved from prospect to star for Bellator, she’s been more and more in the spotlight, recruited for ads, and other projects outside MMA. But the coolest part of the experience, for the champ, has been sharing her personal life.
“I really like sharing my personal life. I think people appreciate that, that I’m pretty authentic via social media,” she told Cageside Press over the weekend. “That’s kind of what everybody sees. I like that fact that I do let people into my life, and see what it’s like. I’m not just always posting ads or ‘my life’s so great!’ on social media. I think that’s what people see and what people have liked so far.”
So with that in mind, “I’m going to keep being real, being me.”
Watch the full press scrum with Ilima-Lei Macfarlane, backstage at Bellator 219, above!