Bellator 213: “Macfarlane vs. Letourneau” aired last night (Sat., Dec. 15, 2018) via DAZN from Neal S. Blaisdell Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Flyweight title was on the line in the main event as the undefeated Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (8-0) took on former UFC contender Valerie Letourneau (10-6), looking for her third straight Bellator win.
At the start it looked as though Letourneau was willing to use her physical attributes to her advantage, staying at distance and forcing Macfarlane to come to her. They exchanged leg kicks, Macfarlane occasionally found the range, but it was a toss up to this reporter who landed more often. Even “Big” John McCarthy said it was “real close” afterward.
The second round was not any easier to call. Letourneau was taken down 12 seconds in but Macfarlane may have made a mistake by stepping back to come over the top. She wound up too high on top of Letourneau, who was able to reverse the position and deck Macfarlane with a couple of hard rights. Macfarlane survived but may have lost R2.
The third round was when everything started to flow decisively in one direction. Despite Letourneau’s attempt to widen her stance and stuff the takedown, a relentless Macfarlane drug her to her knees, battered her with her hands, then completed the takedown and took her back with over three minutes to work. When Macfarlane has your back with that much time left you’re in deep trouble. Letourneau fought off an armbar but it was the setup to cinch the triangle choke, and Letourneau had no choice but to tap at 3:19.
A visibly emotional champion spoke to John McCarthy after successfully defending her Flyweight title on home soil in her home town.
“I don’t know where those leg kicks came from. I’ve never thrown those, ask my corner, I just felt it tonight. In the third round I decided I’m not going to play her game I’m going to play my game. Oh man. I could feel it backstage before I even walked out. I was crying backstage, I was crying when I walked out, I love all of you guys. It’s the best day of my life, it’s the best night of my life, I love you guys!”
In addition former UFC Light Heavyweight champion “The Dragon” Lyoto Machida (24-8) took on former Bellator Middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho (15-2). The first round was bad news for Machida as Carvalho broke his nose with a stiff punch. The second round appeared to swing toward Machida as he rang Carvalho’s bell with a head kick.
Things got even better when “The Dragon” got a takedown to full mount in Round 3.
Carvalho was game though and survived everything, including a late guillotine attempt when he got up from one last takedown. At least one judge thought Carvalho did enough standing to give him two rounds 29-28, but the other two saw it the same for Machida. He spoke to John McCarthy after winning his Bellator debut.
“First of all, ALOHA EVERYONE! So Rafael he’s a tough opponent, so he gave me a hard punch but I could take that, if he broke my nose no problem. What’s important is never quit guys - don’t let other people make you quit your dreams. Thank you guys! I want that belt. I want to be a Bellator champion! I’ll be ready for one of those (Mousasi or Lovato).”
Undefeated fighters also took their share of the spotlight as jiu-jitsu specialist Neiman Gracie (8-0) took on collegiate wrestler turned MMA star Ed Ruth (6-0). Ed Ruth proved to be a survivor early as he avoided a triangle in the first, two attempts to grapevine his leg in the second, and a very nasty looking armbar in the third.
Unfortunately for Ruth the Welterweight tournament bracket calls for extra rounds and the fourth was his undoing. Gracie took down the collegiate all American with a blast double, had a full mount 25 seconds later, and when Ruth gave up his back the rear naked choke finished it at 2:17 of Round 4.
Although Gracie had fewer words here than in our interview with him he made every one count when “Big” John McCarthy gave him the mic.
“Since the day I was born I’ve been proving everybody wrong. Jiu-jitsu, this is jiu-jitsu. I want my belt!!!”
Light Heavyweights looking to regain their standing in the division stepped up in Hawaii as “King Mo” Muhammed Lawal (21-7, 1 NC) took on Liam McGeary (12-3).
Both men needed to bounce back from recent defeats, but McGeary needed it more after dropping two in a row and fought like a man with his back to the wall. Lawal’s strategy was to attack the leg a la Vadim Nemkov but didn’t do enough damage to make McGeary fall. By the end of the second round McGeary’s confidence was growing as he had hurt Lawal with combos and then rocked “King Mo” with elbows to the head on a takedown attempt.
McGeary finished it in the third with a big right hand that made Lawal fall straight backward — a head kick shaving his dome as he fell to the ground. The official time of the knockout was 53 seconds.
“I wasn’t expecting him to throw kicks man. He threw some fucking good ones as well. This is fantastic after the last two losses that I had. As for the leg I could feel it was swelling and I knew if I looked at it it would be even worse. My training partners worked hard for a third, fourth, fifth, tenth round. We were ready to go. (The head kick) would have took his head off it it landed so I’m glad it didn’t.”
Local Lightweight prospects with equal records squared off at 1-0 as Kona Oliveira faced Nainoa Dung. Someone’s “oh” was about to go. Oliveira seemed to have things in hand in the first two rounds scoring takedowns and working on top, although Dung made the second round more competitive than the first with his strikes.
Dung turned things around in the third by blocking a takedown, searching for an anaconda choke from the front headlock, then transitioning to full mount and laying on a beating. “Big” John McCarthy, the crowd and Oliveira felt it was stopped early though their opinions can’t overrule the referee, who officially awarded the win to Dung at 2:05 of Round 3 by TKO. He spoke to McCarthy afterward.
“That’s what I’m about. A real champion always finds a way to come back and win. No way (it was stopped early). He’s in denial. He knows he quit and the referee knows it. There’s no way he was coming back from that.”
For complete Bellator 213 results and coverage click here.