HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii’s Ilima-Lei MacFarlane headlines the final Bellator event of 2020, as she defends her flyweight women’s title for a fifth consecutive time against Juliana Velasquez at Bellator 254 this Thursday.
Undefeated MacFarlane is set to face who many consider as her toughest opponent yet in fellow unbeaten Velasquez, with the added challenge of having to train during the pandemic.
“Well we had to train undercover basically because gyms weren’t allowed to be open in California, so it was very undercover.” MacFarlane told Hawaii News Now Sunrise. “You know people were trying to shut down our gym unfortunately, so yeah a lot of training had to take place with a very select group of people and I did a lot of training at my house too so that’s what was different this year.”
On top of the change in training, MacFarlane also had to go through COVID-19 testing to get to Connecticut where the fight will go down, however the Punahou graduate is ready to step back in the cage.
When she does get in the cage, she will be accompanied by Velasquez, someone who Macfarlane knew she would cross paths with at some point.
“Velasquez has been on my radar for a really long time, not only has she worked her way up the ranks of Bellator and remained undefeated, but she’s also finished several of her opponents, she’s also fought several opponents that I’ve fought before.” Macfarlane said. “So it was inevitable, I knew I was going to meet her down the road and here we are.”
Going into Thursday’s main event, Macfarlane has defended her title four consecutive times, which is tied for the most in Bellator history, but MacFarlane is not ready to hang up the gloves just yet.
“When I first started out, it was just like okay I’m only going to do one fight and then one fight progressed to a contract and that progressed to a belt, that progressed to okay I guess I’m still fighting five years later.”MacFarlane said. “Even though I say, yes I want to walk away eventually, us fighters do have a shelf life. There are other things I want to do outside of the ring, I do want to start a family, but I see lots of women who are moms who have gotten back in the cage three months after giving birth, so never say never.”
Catch all of the action live from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut this Thursday on the CBS Sports Network — Main Cards set to start at 5:00 p.m. Hawaii time.