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Ilima-Lei Macfarlane unfazed by favoritism claims: ‘The rankings are bulls—t anyway’

“I made a very successful career out of fighting and so I could give a s—t what people say about my career.”

Ilima-Lei Macfarlane is headed into Bellator 284 on Aug. 12, 2022, looking to snap the first losing streak of her 13-fight career.

Hawaii’s finest has been a staple on the Bellator roster since her arrival in 2015. After amassing a perfect record six fights into her career, the promotion decided it was time to create a Flyweight title and Macfarlane was a must.

Defeating Emily Ducote via fifth round triangle armbar submission, Macfarlane went on to defend her title four times before dropping it to Juliana Velasquez in Dec. 2020 (watch highlights). Returning for the first time since then this past April, Macfarlane came up short once more in what was a big upset loss to the unranked Justine Kish via unanimous decision.

For her next fight against Bruna Ellen, Macfarlane once again gets an unranked Flyweight opponent, but she isn’t bothered by community claims of the promotion showing her favoritism with such match-ups.

“I don’t look either way but at the end of the day, I think the rankings are bulls—t anyway,” Macfarlane told MMA Mania. “Any ranking that has Valerie Loureda in there, it’s a bulls—t ranking so I don’t even care. I think that the only reason Bruna isn’t ranked is because she had that long layoff during COVID because of Visa issues.

“I made a very successful career out of fighting and so I could give a s—t what people say about my career,” she concluded.

Despite their different career trajectories, Ellen, 26, also joined Bellator around the same time as Macfarlane but has been far less active. Most recently earning a hard-fought split decision win over Desiree Yanez in Nov. 2021, Ellen now looks to claim the biggest win of her career.

In efforts to do so, Macfarlane expects a super exciting wild brawl that will, of course, see her mix in takedown attempts to get the fight in her wheelhouse on the ground. Or ... Ellen will do her thing and make it less than memorable as each tries to gain momentum moving forward in the division.

“Bruna has been around since basically the beginning,” Macfarlane said. “She was a part of that first or second wave of signees to the division and she’s pretty much fought everyone that I’ve fought; Veta [Arteaga], Alejandra [Lara] I believe, Velasquez, so yeah. I think that it’s about time we’re fighting each other. I’m surprised it took so long.

“It’s either going to [exciting or] be really f—king boring because she’s going to run away from me and just try to outpoint me — she’s a point fighter, at the end of the day,” she continued. “She’s not a finisher. Every single one of her fights has gone to decision. I don’t anticipate her going for the finish, I think she’s gonna be smart and she’s gonna try to outpoint me and run on the outside.”


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