Ilima-Lei MacFarlane had yet another title defense back in December when she beat Valerie Letourneau by submission. However, it wasn’t just another title defense. No, this one felt more important for MacFarlane given it was at home in Hawaii. And, she was facing a former UFC strawweight title challenger in Letourneau.
Now, the flyweight champion will once again put her belt on the line when she takes on Veta Arteaga at Bellator 220 on April 27. Although some fans may not know Arteaga, MacFarlane knows she deserves the shot.
“I thought Veta, she’s been on a rip right now, and she’s been performing,” Macfarlane (9-0 MMA, 8-0 BMMA) told MMA Junkie about her upcoming fight with Arteaga. “I was actually expecting to get Veta.”
Part of the reason not many people know who Arteaga is unknown to some is the fact she is only 5-2 as a pro. And, only 4-2 inside the Bellator cage. However, Arteaga is riding a two-fight winning streak. During that stretch, she has impressive wins over Emily Ducote and a submission win over Denise Kielholtz.
Now, the seven-fight pro will take on the 9-0 champion for the title. Although MacFarlane has more experience and has fought more recognizable names, Arteaga can provide problems to Ilima-Lei MacFarlane. That being said, Arteaga does have knockout power so MacFarlane knows she can’t take Arteaga lightly. Rather, MacFarlane knows she has to fight her game and dictate where the fight goes. That will most likely be the ground, as MacFarlane is a world-class grappler with solid submissions.
“A lot of people are like, ‘Are you just going to stand and bang?’ And while a part of me does want to, it’s like, I’m giving her a chance. So I’ve got to keep continuing to do what I do, which is being smart fighter and not let my ego get in the way.”
Cole Shelton covers MMA for BJPenn.com, MMANews, and MyMMANews.com while also being the lead MMA odds writer for Sports Betting Dime