As it stands right now, Ilima-Lei Macfarlane has no idea what it’s like to lose in a sanctioned MMA match.
The San Diego fighter tore through the amateur ranks by either submitting or knocking out nearly every woman she faced and she’s done the same since turning pro. Her quest to remain flawless as a fighter continues on Saturday when she will fight in one of the featured bouts at Bellator 167.
MacFarlane will oppose another promising prospect in Emily Ducote at the Winstar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Ok., and “The Ilimanator” is expecting nothing but a tough struggle. Though Ducote has a loss on her pro ledger, it was in her pro debut and she has since won every fight. Since coming aboard the Bellator roster, Ducote has done nothing but submit her opposition, which is something of which MacFarlane has taken notice.
“She’s definitely going to be my toughest opponent to date because our styles are real similar,” MacFarlane told Sherodg.com in a recent interview. “She’s well-rounded, she’s a wrestler, she has good boxing and she’s in shape. She’s durable and she’s friggin’ tough. This matchup will be my toughest.”
Though Ducote has proven her mettle on the ground, that is the one aspect of MMA where MacFarlane is at her best. She’s been studying jiu-jitsu for years and has snagged a total of five submission victories in both the amateurs and pros. Like Ducote, her last two bouts have ended with her opponents tapping out but the Team Hurricane Awesome representative isn’t sure how the fight will unfold.
“That’s the hard part,” she said. “In preparing for this fight, we weren’t sure where this fight would go, to be honest. I think both of us are comfortable wherever it goes. I think it’ll come down to who shows up that day, who has more heart.
“Obviously, I’m more comfortable on the ground, more so than when I’m on my feet,” she continued. “However, in this camp we’ve been working on a lot of standup and that’s because I do my jiu-jitsu daily. We’ve been preparing on a lot more striking and I think she’s going to try and knock me out. She has this sick-ass overhand right so I think she’s going to try and finish me.”
MacFarlane admitted that she doesn’t watch a ton of film on her opponents and instead leaves that task to her coaches. But the more she fights and remains in the spotlight, the more recognizable she’ll become. The flyweight said that she doesn’t get noticed out on the streets of her daily life, but she has noticed that she’s been signing more autographs and taking more photos with fans at fight events, even if they might not know who she is.”
“It was funny because I was down at UFC 205 helping to corner Liz [Carmouche] and there were a bunch of fans at the hotel lobby,” she reflected with a chuckle, referring to her growing popularity. “A couple fans were asking me to take couple pictures with me and they said, ‘Oh you had a great fight tonight against Miesha!’ I was like, ‘Oh… they think I’m Raquel Pennington…’ and had to laugh about it. They actually didn’t know who I was.”
If MacFarlane can continue to collect wins with the same impressive manner that she has since signing on with Bellator, MMA fans won’t be mistaking her for anybody else anymore.