Undefeated Hawaiian Ilima-Lei Macfarlane has the chance to become the inaugural Bellator women’s flyweight champion this Friday (November 3) when she takes on Emily Ducote at Penn State University.
The championship bout takes place eleven months after the pair first did battle at Bellator 167, a fight Macfarlane won by unanimous decision.
Expecting an even sterner test this time around, Macfarlane, 6-0, took some time ahead of the fight to answer the questions of Fighters Only contributor Tony Reid.
Question: How do you see the fight with Emily Ducote playing out?
Ilima-Lei Macfarlane: I have been envisioning the fight. I have been visualizing me finishing her with a TKO or an armbar within the first two rounds. That would be ideal.
Q: Have you imagined the belt being wrapped around your waist?
IM: Yes! I have been thinking about having that belt around my waist. I have been thinking about bringing it home. I have been thinking about sleeping with it at night. I have told my coaches about it. What I typically do after a fight is stay out and hang out with my family for a few days before coming back to San Diego. My last fight in Connecticut I actually got robbed. My laptop got stolen. My friend’s laptop got stolen. I told my coach that if I do win the title that he has to take it back home. I don’t want it to get stolen. That’s one of the things I have been thinking about.
Q: You just dropped a bomb there with the theft story. What are the details of that crazy experience?
IM: We drove over to Boston to just cruise around there. When we parked at Union Station somebody had used a Slim Jim to get into our car. They went through our bags and took our laptops and all our electronics. I had the ‘Find my iPhone’ thing for my computer. We were able to track it. It was two hours away. We got the address and called the police. They were like, ‘Yeah we are sorry to say that’s long gone.’ It was this whole gang-affiliated thing they had going on. It was crazy. My teammates said we should just go over there and kick down the door. They were like, no, we will seriously die out there. I just have to accept my losses. I was just happy they didn’t steal my gloves. Little did they know my gloves are probably worth more than my computer.
Q: You and Emily Ducote have history. You fought 11 months ago, so there is some familiarity there. You hold the win over her in the first matchup. Does that mean anything at all to you at this point?
IM: I feel like it can go one of two ways. We got a really good taste of each other’s game. The most reassuring thing from our first fight is that I felt physically stronger than her. I think skill-wise we are similar. We are both purple belts in jiu-jitsu in our respective BJJ schools. We are both wresters. She wrestled at OKC and I wrestled at my alma mater in Hawaii. We both have really solid striking. We work a lot on our boxing. So, the one thing that I do I have the advantage in is the physical strength and size factor. With that said, I think I will get the finish in the first two rounds or it will go to the judges again.
Q: If you pick up Bellator gold you can pair it with your recent EBI title you secured. Have you thought about walking around with two belts on?
IM: That’s the goal. I actually have thought about that photoshoot, to be totally honest. That would be a lot of fun.
Q: What would it mean, in a historical sense, to be the first Bellator champion of this weight class?
IM: I was talking earlier with somebody and I said I consider myself a homegrown fighter with Bellator. I was one of the original girls of the first wave that was signed to create this division. In that sense I already feel like a pioneer. Also, to be able to hold the first belt in this division would be freaking amazing. It’s not only for Bellator – this would be the first belt in any major MMA promotion in the world. This is not just making Bellator history, this is making MMA history.
Q: Speaking of making history, I hear you are the only woman in the new Bellator Fantasy Football League. How cool is that?
IM: There are twelve of us. I am the only girl in the league. I am in ninth place right now, which I am pretty happy with. My record is 3-4 and I just narrowly lost this past week. Honestly, my goal is just to not be in last place. I beat Benson (Henderson). I think I have (Matt) Mitrione this week. We have Big Country (Roy Nelson), Darrion Caldwell, AJ McKee, Phil Davis, Baby Slice, Brett Primus, Matt Mitrione, and a few others.
Q: By all accounts you were just a college student who wanted to get into better shape when you first walked into the gym. Is that the real story?
IM: Oh, yes. I went to San Diego State, which is notoriously a party school. It was Mexican food at 2 am from the taco shops every night. It was parties all the time. It was pretty bad. I got up to 175lbs. That was my heaviest. Once I finished my Bachelor’s degree I had a summer off and decided I needed to get into shape. I joined this random gym one day and it happened to be San Diego Combat Academy. That is the gym I have been with this whole time.
Q: You mentioned San Diego State as a party school. There are very few that match up to Penn State’s standards. You will be back at home in a roundabout way next weekend. Any plans for your time back at a party school?
IM: Oh my gosh. You are right. Everybody asked what I was doing for Halloween. I am actually going to be at Penn State. Maybe I will go hit up some of their college parties.