Ilima-Lei Macfarlane – Flyweight Phenom

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Bellator flyweight champion Ilima-Lei Macfarlane is back in action on Friday at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, California. She’ll face the Columbian prospect Alejandra Lara in the headliner of Bellator 201.  The undefeated Macfarlane will be in search of an eighth consecutive victory. Her blossoming career is on track to be one of the best in the history of women’s MMA.

Ilima-Lei Macfarlane – Flyweight Phenom

To this point, the 28-year-old San Diego product has denied victory from high-quality opposition in the form of Rebecca Ruth, Jessica Middleton, and on two occasions, Emily Ducote. Save for a split decision verdict over Maria Rios, none of Macfarlane’s matches have been particularly competitive. 

Who is the title challenger?  

Across the cage from Macfarlane will be a game opponent in the form of Alejandra Lara. The Combat Training Club representative stopped the highly touted Lena Ovchynnikova via third round rear-naked choke in her last outing at Bellator 190, and she’s currently riding a three-fight winning streak.  

Lara, who’s been a pro since 2011, has proven herself to be a finisher, with six of her seven triumphs coming by way of stoppage. The only blemish on her stellar resume is a unanimous decision setback to Sabina Mazo in March of 2015 under the Striker Fighting Championship banner. Undeniably, Macfarlane poses a significant step up in competition for Lara – will the Columbian rise to the occasion, or is this a classic case of too much, too soon?

With a win, where does “The Ilimanator” go from here? 

Widely considered to be one of the top women’s mixed martial arts athletes competing outside of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Macfarlane’s biggest obstacle moving forward could be finding suitable opponents to test her skills against.  Next in line for the champion is likely to be the winner of an intriguing contest scheduled for earlier in the evening.

The undercard match-up pitting fast rising Kristina Williams and UFC veteran Valerie Letourneau has all the makings of being a title eliminator.  Will it be the unbeaten Williams or the experienced striker from Montreal who positions themselves for a crack at Bellator gold, and affords Macfarlane an opportunity to further add to her legacy? We’ll have our answer on Friday night. 

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Mark Dwyer is a sports writer from Cleveland, Ohio who has particular interests in covering mma, hockey, cross country running and track & field.

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