Bellator 300: Carmouche vs. Macfarlane Breakdown

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In 2009, an MMA promotion based out of Santa Monica, CA held its first card. Bellator‘s humble beginnings included airing its earliest cards on tape-delayed status the day after they took place on ESPN Deportes.

On April 3, 2009, Bellator 1 took place from Hollywood, Florida. All but one of the fights that evening ended by stoppage. Since then, Bellator has bounced around from network to network, finding a home on Paramount Global-owned properties, including its current partner, Showtime.

San Diego’s Pechanga Arena plays host to the landmark Bellator 300, although officially, this card is the promotion’s 306th lifetime show. As usual, Showtime is the place for the action inside the United States.

Title Fight Trifecta Begins with Women’s Flyweight Championship

Bellator 300 was initially slated for four title fight matchups on the main card.

On Monday, however, this changed. A planned heavyweight title fight matching Ryan Bader (31-7, 1 NC MMA, 9-2, 1 NC Bellator) against Linton Vassell (24-8 MMA, 12-5 Bellator) was scrubbed amid the challenger becoming sick, although the champion contends that theΒ  bout was too expensive to put on.

Three title fights are still confirmed to be happening, including the battle for the women’s flyweight championship. Incumbent titleholder Liz Carmouche (19-7 MMA, 6-0 Bellator) collides with No. 2 contender Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (12-2 MMA, 12-2 Bellator) in a five-round fight at five minutes per round.

Fighter Comparison and Betting Odds

Heading into this flyweight championship fight on Saturday night, Liz Carmouche stands as the taller fighter at 5-foot-6, compared to the 5-foot-4 frame of Ilima-Lei Macfarlane. Both contestants stand level in reach at 66 inches.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the oddsmakers have Liz Carmouche installed as a -278 favorite to defend the strap, with Ilima-Lei Macfarlane countering as a +228 underdog. If you plan on betting on this or any other fight happening this weekend, please wager responsibly.

Carmouche/ Macfarlane Friendship Paused for Bellator 300

Champion Liz Carmouche has posted a record of 5-0 in her last five fights. Since joining the Bellator promotional banner in September of 2020, she has yet to taste defeat at 6-0.

Last time out, she scored a fourth-round submission (arm-triangle choke) in a rematch of her Bellator promotional debut against DeAnna Bennett (13-7-1 MMA, 3-2 Bellator) back in April during Bellator 294. Recently, the champ revealed that she and the challenger are friends, something put on the back-burner for now.

“We used to be each other’s main training partners coming up,” Carmouche began. “We did most of our training camps together, helping each other get ready. As far as the friendship, we’re still friends. My last fight camp, her last fight camp, she needed a vehicle. I let her borrow my truck. I was out of town for a weekend, she got hay for my wife, so we’re still friends. We’re sharing food videos with each other, so the friendship is still there. That hasn’t waned for any reason, has no reflection on the fight.”

Macfarlane Getting Best of Both Worlds While Fighting with Heavy Heart

In the other corner, challenger Ilima-Lei Macfarlane has gone 3-2 in her last five appearances. Currently, she’s on a two-fight winning streak.

Most recently, she scored a split decision victory over Kana Watanabe (12-2-1 MMA, 4-2 Bellator) during Bellator 295. This week, she is representing both her hometown of Honolulu and her training camp base of San Diego, but Saturday’s fight bears special meaning for Macfarlane and her friends on the island.

This is Ilima-Lei Macfarlane’s first appearance inside the cage since a devastating wildfire struck Maui earlier on in the summer. At last count, 98 people died as a result of the blaze.

Macfarlane has raised $2.5 million (USD) to aide in relief efforts for those affected by the wildfire and revealed that she’d be fighting on Bellator 300 a day after the fire broke out. The locals haven’t had much to cheer about of late, but can she give them reason to stand up and applaud?

Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction

Stylistically, this title fight is a toss-up. Both champion and challenger own black belts in 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu, with Carmouche also owning a yellow belt in American Kenpo.

Carmouche Can End Things in a Hurry

Carmouche has won 19 fights in her career, securing the victory by knockout most often (eight times.) Thus, it stands to reason that she can write a quick ending to the story, like she did vs. Watanabe.Β 

Right after the opening bell tolled, Carmouche got to work with a barrage of shots, including a repeated right hand. Watanabe couldn’t even attempt to counterstrike with the frequency of Carmouche’s shots, with referee Kevin Macdonald waving the fight off (standing TKO) in just 35 seconds.

Macfarlane Fierce on the Ground

In the other corner, don’t discount Ilima-Lei Macfarlane’s ability to get the finish by submission. Her fight against Valerie Letourneau is a textbook example.

During the third round of a scheduled five, Macfarlane tried to dump Letourneau, but the latter’s defense was stout on the first attempt. Upon successfully taking Letourneau down, Macfarlane softened her up with ground and pound shots and hunted for an armbar.

Despite Letourneau fighting off the armbar attempt, an undaunted Macfarlane applied the necessary torque to sink in a triangle choke submission. Watch for Macfarlane to try and take Carmouche down.

Final Thoughts

What a great title fight to start off a main card, something that you rarely see in MMA. Will this one live up to the hype?

Prediction: Liz Carmouche by Unanimous Decision.

Live coverage begins with the undercard at 6:30 pm ET/ 3:30 pm PT on YouTube. Main card action immediately follows at 10 pm ET/ 7 pm PT on the premium movie network. Initially, the event was to have been capped by four championship confrontations at the top of the card.

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Drew Zuhosky has been writing about combat sports since May of 2018, coming to MMASucka after stints at Overtime Heroics and Armchair All-Americans. A graduate of Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, Drew is a charter member of the Youngstown Press Club. Prior to beginning his professional career, Drew was a sportswriter for YSU's student-run newspaper, The Jambar, where he supplied Press Box Perspective columns every week.

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