Bellator MMA placed another obstacle in front of Ilima-Lei Macfarlane, and she cleared it with room to spare.
Macfarlane submitted Alejandra Lara with a third-round armbar, as she retained her women’s flyweight championship in the Bellator 201 main event on Friday at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, California. The undefeated Hawaiian drew the curtain 3:55 into Round 3 and moved to 8-0 with her third finish in as many appearances.
To her credit, Lara did no go away quietly. She powered into top position in the first round and successfully traversed the champion’s venomous guard, circling behind her before she settled in side control and later shifted to north-south. Macfarlane remained calm, stayed busy from her back and extended the fight to a second round. Eventually, they drifted into the third. There, Macfarlane ducked under a spinning elbow from the Colombian, dragged her to the canvas and later climbed to full mount. She isolated Lara’s left arm, maintained control of the limb through an extended struggle and ultimately forced the tap.
In the aftermath of Bellator 201 “Macfarlane vs. Lara,” here are four matches that ought to be made:
Ilima-Lei Macfarlane vs. Valerie Letourneau: Macfarlane appears to already know the identity of her next challenger. Letourneau improved to 2-0 under the Bellator flag, as the Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran took a unanimous decision from Kristina Williams in an entertaining flyweight showcase. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28 for Letourneau, a 35-year-old American Top Team mainstay who rode a first-round knockdown, strategic takedowns and a noticeable experience advantage to a pivotal victory.
Saad Awad vs. Adam Piccolotti: Few fighters can withstand a direct hit from Awad -- a reality Ryan Couture now knows firsthand. The well-traveled Californian cut down Couture with punches 4:29 into the first round of their catchweight co-headliner at 160 pounds. A clean right hand from Awad marked the beginning of the end, as he poured on the punishment before closing the deal with an uppercut along the fence. The “Assassin” has rattled off four straight wins, his longest such streak since winning six in a row between Oct. 16, 2011 and Feb. 28, 2013. Piccolotti last appeared at Bellator 199 in May, when he submitted Carrington Banks with a first-round rear-naked choke.
Juan Archuleta vs. Pat Curran: Archuleta has put himself in position to make some serious noise at 145 pounds. The former King of the Cage champion extended his current winning streak to 14 fights with a scintillating third-round knockout of Robbie Peralta. Archuleta, 30, floored Peralta with an overhand right, trailed him to the mat and mopped up what was left with a volley of standing-to-ground hammerfists, the end coming 14 seconds into Round 3. Curran has not competed since he outpointed John Teixeira da Conceicao across three rounds at Bellator 184 on Oct. 6. He has twice held Bellator’s featherweight championship.
Ed Ruth vs. James Terry: A true blue-chip prospect, Ruth moved to 6-0 by bludgeoning Andy Murad on the undercard. The three-time NCAA wrestling champion abused Murad with ground-and-pound before sealing his fate with power punches on the feet. Ruth drew blood from multiple cuts and forced referee Jason Herzog to intervene on his overmatched opponent’s behalf 4:59 into Round 2. The 27-year-old sports five finishes among his six professional victories and figures to be in line for a step up in competition. Terry, 37, last fought at Bellator 199 in May, when he laid claim to a unanimous decision over Danasabe Mohammed at the SAP Center in San Jose, California. It was his fourth consecutive win.