Ilima-Lei MacFarlane is set to defend her Bellator women’s flyweight title at home in Hawaii for the second straight year. She takes on Kate Jackson this Saturday.
Last year, she submitted Valerie Letourneau in Hawaii, and it was an emotional night for her. MacFarlane cried during her walkout, and the 29 year old expects to do so again at Bellator 236.
“I will probably have less anxiety because I know what to expect. But, the walkout is going to be very deep and intense. So, I will probably be crying during the walkout,” MacFarlane said to BJPENN.com.
Although she believes she will cry, she knows she will regain composure right when the opening bell rings, just like she did last year.
MacFarlane is expecting a tough fight, as Jackson has solid grappling defense and has never been submitted before.
Yet MacFarlane is confident in her skill set.
“She is really good at submission defense, she has never been submitted before and is well-rounded everywhere,” she explained. “She has a karate background and BJJ. And, bringing that judo element is something I will have to figure out.”
Although Jackson has never been submitted, MacFarlane knows she is elite at grappling and should be able to get ahold of something.
Not only that but, like Jackson, most of Ilima-Lei MacFarlane’s past opponents had never been submitted before until they fought her.
“I was thinking about it, basically four [of my previous] opponents, none of them had been finished before. [Emily] Ducote had never been submitted before, Valerie had like 16 fights and never been submitted before. So, I ended up finishing all of them,” Ilima-Lei MacFarlane said. “Even though Kate has never been submitted before and has a good ground game defense, she hasn’t dealt with 10th Planet [Jiu Jitsu]. Our style is different and we do go for the attack and always are on the attack. Never say never, maybe I’ll be her first finish.”
MacFarlane is just looking to get another win in front of the home crowd in Hawaii. She knows it is something special to be the reason why Bellator is going to Hawaii and is honored for that.
“It is cool. They did it in a really good way. They just didn’t bombard me, and I feel like I rose to the occasion. I think it is awesome. Scott has discovered female talent. He was the one who discovered Gina Carano, Cris Cyborg, Ronda Rousey, during the Strikeforce days. They do an amazing job finding those stars. It means a lot that they picked me and I was able to be the catalyst for Bellator Hawaii,” she said.
In the end, MacFarlane is just excited to be back fighting in Hawaii and knows there is pressure to defend her belt. But, whatever happens, she is confident the Hawaiians will still be there for her.
“Yeah, I feel the pressure to perform. But, at the same time, the Hawaii support system is so strong it wouldn’t matter if I got knocked out in the first round,” MacFarlane concluded. “They’ll still be there for me.”
Do you think Ilima-Lei MacFarlane will beat Kate Jackson at Bellator 236?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 12/17/2019.