Former Bellator women’s flyweight champion Ilima-Lei Macfarlane is comforted by the growth of the division she once ruled over.
Ahead of her return to action at Bellator 284, Macfarlane (11-2) touched on that, and her own future ahead of what could be one of her final professional fights.
“It does make me feel good to see our division growing, and we’re steadily adding more and more talent,” Macfarlane told media outlets including Cageside Press during Wednesday’s Bellator 284 media day. “And it’s already a deep-ass division, with some of the best in the world. So super-grateful to be part of that first wave.”
Macfarlane will be looking to snap a two-fight skid this Friday in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where she takes on Bruna Ellen. Despite starting with Bellator back in 2016, Ellen is just 26-years old.
“I didn’t realize she was so young, because I remember her being part of the first wave that got signed to the division, right around my time,” admitted Macfarlane. “So I always considered her one of the OGs of Bellator’s flyweight division. But yeah I didn’t realize that she was a lot younger, so that just kind of shows, really talented, young and hungry. She’s around the same age I was when I was going for the belt and everything. So I know she has that drive, and I know coming into this fight she has that drive to prove she belongs at the top of the division if she can take out the former queen.”
Macfarlane is expecting a strategic fight, based on her recent losses. “All the fights that I have lost, the two fights that I have lost, it was really strategic fights on my opponent’s part. They stayed on the outside, they stayed out of any grappling situations or they tried to stay out of grappling situations with myself, and just really worked on nullifying my submission game. So I think Bruna is going to be very well-prepared for my style and she’s going to be very strategic for this fight.”
The Hawaiian is not putting too much focus on her losses, and found some positives in battling through adversity and injury.
“Whatevers, I’ve got two losses on my record. Boo-hoo,” she said sarcastically. “I’m hard to finish. I think if anything that kind of just showed everybody that I can walk through a flying knee and still swing, I can walk through having one arm and still knock you down with it. I don’t really care that I lost those last two. I think the people that are making it a big deal, their opinion doesn’t really matter.”
That said, after floating the possibility recently, she remains set on retiring after her current contract is up — mostly. Though she would like to stay on with Bellator MMA in another capacity.
“I would love to continue my journey with Bellator, whether that’s in or out of the cage,” said Macfarlane. “I want to say I have my mind made up about retiring after my contract is done. You know, you see fighters retire all the time and then they come back. So I don’t want to say my fighting career is done for good, but I just think that for the time being, I need a break. Like I said, I would love to continue my journey with Bellator even after I’m done inside the cage. I really enjoy being behind the desk, being on the mic, being in front of the camera. If there’s a place for me, let’s do it Bellator, wink-wink.”
Bellator 284 goes down this Friday, August 12, 2022 at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Ilima-Lei Macfarlane meets Bruna Ellen on the evening’s main card.