Bellator 289: Liz Carmouche Wants to Be Ilima-Lei Macfarlane’s Final Opponent, at Bantamweight

Former Bellator MMA women’s flyweight champ Ilima-Lei Macfarlane and current title holder Liz Carmouche were once the type of training partners who refused to fight each other.

But having gone their separate ways in terms of teams, it appears they are now open to such an engagement. Following Carmouche’s successful title defense over Juliana Velasquez at Bellator 289, the current 125lb champ suggested that she could serve as Macfarlane’s final opponent, given the Hawaiian has been talking retirement of late.

The catch? Carmouche (18-7) is gunning for a fight at bantamweight, a division Bellator does not currently feature.

“Ilima-Lei Macfarlane and I have been training partners for years, we have a lot of respect, we’re really good friends,” Carmouche told members of the media backstage at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT on Friday. “And she’s talking about, she wants to retire and she wants her fight against me to be her retirement.”

“After one, her not making weight the last fight, and just— who always wants to have to cut all the way down all the time? It would make sense to me. And I want to be Bellator’s 135 champion and I want to hold a belt in two divisions. And I can’t think of anybody better to do that with than Ilima, as her retirement fight being my opening to opening a new division in Bellator.”

“So I want to fight her in Hawaii for her retirement, and then [Kana] Watanabe has worked her way up the ranks.”

Carmouche and Japan’s Watanabe have met once before, with “The Girl-Rilla” finishing the fight in all of 35 seconds via TKO. “I think she deserves a second go, because I think I did catch her by circumstance. I don’t think that was what was supposed to happen. And to do that in Japan, where, that’s where I grew up, and it’s her home roots, I think that would be a phenomenal card for Bellator to put on.”

Bellator heads to Japan later this month for a cross-promotional event with RIZIN on New Year’s Eve, so it’s not outside the realm of possibility that Carmouche gets her fish at a future date.

Watch the full Bellator 289 post-fight appearance by Liz Carmouche above.