Former Bellator MMA women’s flyweight champion Ilima-Lei Macfarlane returns to the cage on Friday, looking to snap the first two-fight skid of her career.
Those, in fact, are the only losses of her career. Hawaii’s Macfarlane (11-2) had an extended break between the two fights, which saw her lose her title to Juliana Velasquez, then drop a decision to ex-UFC fighter Justine Kish in her return this past April.
Despite the importance of her Bellator 284 fight against Bruna Ellen this Friday, Macfarlane has a lot going on outside fighting, she admitted in a recent interview with Cageside Press. That includes filing a lawsuit against her former youth basketball coach, alleging sexual abuse, and campaigning to bring attention to the plight of MMIW [Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women].
“I’m just in a different phase of my career and my life, where I almost feel like I don’t need to put all my eggs in one basket,” Macfarlane told Cageside Press about her divided attention ahead of the Ellen fight. “I don’t need to just be so extremely focused that I disregard the other parts of my life that need attention. Because that’s what I did when I was going for the belt, when I was champion, that’s what I had to do. I think it’s not that I have a lack of focus on my fight career, it’s just that it’s a different phase, and it’s an adaptation of what I normally do.”
Macfarlane acknowledged that she does have a lot of things going on in her life outside of fighting, “but everybody does,” she added. “You don’t really meet a fighter who, all they do [is] live, train, eat, breathe fighting, they don’t have mental sh*t going on, they don’t have other life or relationship problems going on. Everybody deals with that.”
For a moment, it looked as if Macfarlane might also be dealing with a serious injury following her fight against Kish back in April. Luckily, it turned out to be less severe than originally thought.
After being transported to hospital and put in a neck brace, “fortunately, and by God’s grace, I didn’t break anything. It was a stinger, so there was just some bone contusions and some nerve damage,” Macfarlane revealed.
The Hawaiian texted Bellator pretty much immediately looking for a fight, while still getting PRP injections in her neck. “The quick turnaround was very intentional, because I’m making up for lost time in a sense, having such a long layoff. I feel okay, I don’t feel 100% but nobody feels 100% going into their fight.”
“The Iliminator” gave a unique prediction for her Bellator 284 fight against Bruna Ellen.
“I think it’s going to be either really f*cking boring if she doesn’t engage with me, and just runs on the outside and tries to outpoint me,” suggested Macfarlane. “Or it’s going to be a brawl, and we’re just going to try to knock each other out, while I look for my takedown openings of course.”
Watch our full interview with Bellator 284’s Ilima-Lei Macfarlane above. Macfarlane vs. Ellen takes place this Friday, August 12, 2022 at Bellator 284 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.