Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (aka “The Ilimanator”) was born April 2, 1990, in Honolulu, Hawaii, United States and is Bellator MMA’s former, and first-ever Women’s Flyweight Champion, currently ranked no.1 in the flyweight division and no.3 in Bellator’s Women’s pound for pound rankings.
The 31 year-old Macfarlane holds an impressive 11-1 record after an unbeaten 11-0 streak was snapped when she lost a close decision to Juliana Velasquez in her last fight. Macfarlane holds notable wins over Alejandra Lara, Valérie Létourneau and Kate Jackson.
Macfarlane’s fighting style is predicated on her dangerous jiu-jitsu skill with a brown belt under the highly prestigious, whilst unorthodox 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu; such skills have earned her 6 submission wins, meaning that over 50% of her wins are via submission.
Adding to this impressive statistic, between 2017-2018, Macfarlane put together a 4-fight win streak, all consisting of submissions. Alongside this, she has lightning-quick striking and technical skill to outclass opponents and just needs to bring up her one-punch K.O. power – as she’s only had 2 TKO/KO wins. Despite this, she’s still managed to forge an outstanding career.
“The Ilimanator’s” professional career started in January 2015 with her debut win which looked to be a mismatch in skill from the outset – the fight lasted just 10 seconds; and went viral online with over 2 million views to date.
After this viral sensation, Macfarlane debuted in Bellator in just her second professional fight in 2015 and in just under 3 years since her pro debut, she won Bellator gold in 2017 in her seventh fight.
However, after 4 defences of her title taking her to 11-0, she suffered her first professional loss in December 2020 against Juliana Velasquez. She took the loss in stride, stating, “I’m excited for this next chapter. Honestly, in a really weird way this is what I felt I always needed in my career,” and jokingly said, “Yay! This means I don’t have to train for five rounds anymore”.
However, this leaves us wondering what’s next for The Ilimanator? Is it a rematch against Velasquez? Is it a Women’s flyweight tournament? Whatever it is we’re looking forward to it…Now that you have a brief background into “The Ilimanator’s” career, let’s take a closer look at Ilima-Lei Macfarlane’s Top 5 MMA finishes! (in descending order)
5. Vs. Katie Castro – Xplode FS: Hurricane (Jan. 17, 2015)
This fight marked Macfarlane’s professional debut and one of only two TKO/KO finishes on her record.
Macfarlane, clearly the superior mixed martial artist, wasted no time in demonstrating this fact as both fighters meet in the middle of the cage.
Macfarlane is backed up but unleashes a brutal straight right that knocks Castro to the floor, then the following right hook knocks Castro unconscious, just 10 seconds into the fight.
A fast finish and start to a budding career allowed Macfarlane to join Bellator in just her second fight.
4. Vs. Veta Arteaga – Bellator 220 (April 27, 2019)
Macfarlane opened up with an early takedown attempt to negate Arteaga’s aggressive start. After getting up, Arteaga was quickly taken back down and shortly thereafter, found herself defending a leg lock attempt.
In round 2, not dissimilar to the preceding, Macfarlane lands an early takedown and is able to control Arteaga for the majority of the round to steal it.
In round 3, Macfarlane lands yet another early takedown at a minute, 30 seconds in, and is able to land a huge elbow to Arteaga’s forehead, immediately opening up a huge cut. After a doctor’s inspection, the official called a stop to the contest, 1 minute, 50 seconds into the third round.
This impressive victory gave Macfarlane her third championship defence.
3. Vs. Alejandra Lara – Bellator 201 (June 29, 2018)
Round 1 starts with both fighters clinching, and Macfarlane tries to throw Lara but ends up on the bottom, whereupon she begins to look for a triangle attempt. However, Lara is able to scramble out; an armbar attempt followed, which converted to yet another triangle, but again, Lara was able to defend.
In round 2, at 3 minutes,10 seconds in, Macfarlane successfully pulls off a throw and transitions to half-guard, allowing her to land powerful elbows and soon after, to take Lara’s back and threaten a rear-naked choke, yet there wasn’t quite enough time to get the finish.
At around a minute into round 3, Macfarlane lands a takedown and takes Lara’s back, but as Lara tries to escape the position, Macfarlane takes top position and swivels to extend Lara’s arm, forcing her to tap out via armbar at 3 minutes, 55 seconds into the third.
This win was an inspiring first defence of Macfarlane’s title, and just one of many.
2. Vs. Valérie Létourneau – Bellator 213 (Dec. 15, 2018)
This was Macfarlane’s second defence of her Flyweight World Championship in just her ninth fight, as she looked to continue her unbeaten streak.
Round 1 lacked anything significant in the action stakes but was a real technical battle ‘at a distance’ on the part of both fighters in a strategical feeling-out process with neither fighter asserting dominance.
Just 10 seconds into round 2, Valerie throws a leg kick which Macfarlane catches, using it to secure the takedown. After a minute-and-a-half of scrambling, Valérie is able to return to her feet and land some dangerous elbows in the clinch. Like round 1, round 2 ends with the competitors fighting at a distance.
Round 3 starts with two very competitive rounds squared away, and at a minute in, Macfarlane presses Valérie up to the cage, and 30 seconds later, trips Valerie to the floor, quickly taking the back.
At 2 minutes, 40 seconds, Macfarlane looks for an armbar, and as Valérie tries to escape, Macfarlane changes it to a triangle choke, causing Valerie to hectically scramble, but she’s finally forced to tap at 3 minutes, 19 seconds of round 3.
This gave Macfarlane her fourth straight stoppage win and her second title defence.
1. Vs. Emily Ducote 2 – Bellator 186 (Nov. 3, 2017)
This was a rematch after Macfarlane took the first fight by unanimous decision, but this time the inaugural Bellator Women’s Flyweight World Championship was on the line, and Macfarlane definitely wouldn’t want to settle for a decision win.
Round 1 starts with both fighters coming out blazing, engaging in a clinch, with both of them also landing.
At 2 minutes, 10 seconds in, Macfarlane begins to up the pressure, unleashing vicious straight punches, using these stunners to mask a takedown 3 minutes in.
She is able to get a hook in, and tries to secure a rear-naked choke but is unable to get the finish and opts instead to rain down crushing elbows, and even as the round ends, tries to catch an armbar which was halted by the bell.
Round 2 was fast-paced with methodological striking from both competitors using effective straight strikes and lethal legs kicks. Neither were able to dominantly secure the round, but Macfarlane nudged ahead on points based on accuracy.
The first half of round 3 saw Macfarlane able to control Ducote for the majority of the round in the clinch, and in the second half, used her wrestling to force Ducote into the cage and eventually get the takedown.
Round 4 was a back-and-forth battle with each fighter trading quick, short bursts until, with 40 seconds left in the round, Ducote lands a takedown of her own which Macfarlane defends, preventing any major damage.
By round 5 it was clear that Ducote needed a finish with Macfarlane being far ahead on the scorecards. She gets a chance, as a failed Macfarlane throw leaves Ducote on top. This proves to be her downfall however, as Macfarlane locks on to a triangle choke compelling Ducote to tap at 3 minutes, 42 seconds of the fifth round.
This rematch had the desired, definitive ending this time and allowed Macfarlane to have her first taste of Bellator gold.