HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It’s officially fight week in Hawaii.
Former Punahou wrestling standout turned MMA champion Ilima-Lei Macfarlane will make her second title defense of the Bellator Women’s flyweight division at the Blaisdell Arena this Saturday against MMA veteran Valerie Letourneau (10-4).
The much-anticipated bout will serve as the main event for Bellator 213, a two-night event featuring up-and-coming Hawaii-based fighters and top-tier MMA talent from the mainland.
Macfarlane has experienced a meteoric rise to the top of the Bellator women’s flyweight division in the last 12 months, winning the inaugural title last year in an epic battle against challenger Emily Ducote.
This morning on Hawaii News Now Sunrise, Macfarlane said that fighting Letourneau would unquestionably be the biggest challenge of her undefeated career.
“Valerie is a true veteran of the sport," said Macfarlane. "She is one of the pioneers of women’s MMA, one of the first fighters I ever watched. I’m honored to be sharing the cage with her Saturday night. This will be a great test, and I want her in the cage with me for Bellator Hawaii.”
Macfarlane headlines what will be a an incredible weekend for the local mixed martial arts community. For many of the Hawaii-based fighters, their appearance on the Bellator card will be the biggest promotion of their young careers.
Two budding prospects, Nainoa Dung and Kona Oliveira, will face off against each other on the main card Saturday night, while former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida will make his Bellator debut against Rafael Carvalho (15-1) – and that’s just Saturday.
The first night of bouts, taking place on Friday, will feature a lightweight title fight between Michael Chandler (18-4) and Brent Primus (8-0). Bellator and the USO have partnered together to make Friday a special ‘Salute the Troops’ fight night. The event will be free for U.S. service members and their families. Also on fighting on the card will be former UFC contender Frank Mir (18-12) who will battle Javy Ayala (10-7) in a much anticipated bout featuring the heavyweights.
Bellator, to their credit, was able to do what the UFC so far has been unable to: put on an event for the fans and people of Hawaii while also bringing home a current champion from their respective organization.
Macfarlane believes that if Bellator 213 is a success, for both her and the organization, that this will not be the last time we see Bellator in the islands.
“We want to keep bringing Bellator to Hawaii,” Macfarlane said. “We are keeping our fingers crossed everything goes smoothly, I am so excited. It is going to be a huge show, the whole world is going to be watching, and everybody is going to be tuning in"