HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - As soon as she began her chicken-skin walk-out to Dennis Pavao’s ‘All Hawaii Stand Together,' Bellator officials knew last year’s Hawaii fight event featuring Ilima-Lei Macfarlane was a rousing success.
With a submission victory via strikes, Macfarlane delivered a historic performance in front of a sold-out Blaisdell Arena crowd, a fitting end to what was a great sports year for Hawaii athletes ― and it appears that Bellator is ready to head to Hawaii once again to close out the year.
Earlier last week, it was made official that one of the world’s biggest fighting organizations would be returning to Hawaii for another night of MMA action with local phenom Macfarlane headlining again on home-soil.
The opportunity to bring Bellator back to Hawaii for a second time was one Macfarlane was extremely passionate about after the success of last year’s show.
“We had to ‘hana hou’ Bellator Hawaii," said Macfarlane. “People who had been in the business since the beginning who have witnessed some of the most spectacular moments in sports history, came up and told me that, that was the ‘best moment ever in sports,' so we would be fools not to come back and try and recreate it.”
Still undefeated as a professional, Macfarlane will put her world title belt and perfect record (10-0) on the line Dec. 21 against Kate Jackson (11-3-1).
In her last fight, the Punahou alum defeated the gritty Veta Arteaga back in April at Bellator 220 via third-round TKO, but believes Jackson poses a host of new challenges.
“She’s a veteran of the sport,” said Macfarlane. “She’s been around for a while, well-rounded in every area. I think she is going to be my toughest opponent to date.”
Since her sudden yet prolific rise to fame as one of Bellator’s most influential champions, Macfarlane has always remained humbled and appreciative of everything she has earned. She’s also used her platform as a celebrity to bring awareness to social issues, such as the recent protests atop Mauna Kea in opposition to the Thirty Meter Telescope.
“It’s a personal choice,” said Macfarlane. “Bellator 100% supports me on everything, they actually told me when they find out I was going up to the Mauna ‘If you get arrested we will bail you out.' You could even see it in my last walk-out how supportive Bellator was of me supporting my Hawaiian culture."
Macfarlane didn’t expose everything about her potential walk-out for her 2019 fight at the Blaisdell, but did allude to the fact that it will be heavily influenced by what’s taking place atop Mauna Kea.
“There will be plenty Mana Wahine on stage with me,” said Macfarlane. “There will also be a audience participation moment, a Mele by Kumu Hina Wong ― Ku Ha’aheo.”
Tickets for the event will go on sale this Friday, Oct. 11 and can be purchased here.