HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After extending the undefeated start to her career on Friday, and with her long-time coach watching from a nearby hospital bed, Ilima-lei Macfarlane says she allowed her post-fight emotions get the best of her for the first time in her career.
"This was the first time where I was just so overcome with emotion," Macfarlane told Hawaii News Now. "You can see me... I yell, I scream. And that never happens."
Describing herself as typically stoic in victory, Macfarlane surmises the outpouring was equal parts emotion, for obvious reasons, and shock, for having defeated the woman she says was the toughest she's ever faced.
"Everything came out, and it was amazing," Macfarlane said. "I can't believe I did it. I wasn't supposed to win that fight. And I did it. I pulled it off. So it was amazing, it was the best feeling in the world."
After a back-and-forth first round, Macfarlane found herself in position for several different choke submissions early in the second round. Each time, her opponent, Rebecca Ruth, refused to tap-out.
"There was a split second, after the second choke, where I was like, 'Just give up on it. Try something else,'" said Macfarlane. "But I could hear her choking. If I'm tired, imagine how she's feeling. I need to do it before she regains her strength back."
Macfarlane's relentless effort eventually led to a submission victory with just more than 2 minutes to go in the round.
The 2009 graduate of Punahou School now lives and trains in San Diego. She says Bellator hopes to crown a flyweight champion some time this year, and that her immediate goal is to win that title.