Ilima-Lei Macfarlane looks to extend her title defense record in Bellator at Bellator 254 on Thursday night night.
But her opponent may be one of her toughest to date, in Juliana Velasquez. Both Macfarlane and Velasquez enter tomorrow’s bout as undefeated fighters. At the end, only one will remain undefeated on in sole possession of the Bellator flyweight belt. Of course, mainly, Macfarlane was just excited to perform tomorrow night.
“I’m just grateful that despite it being very weird circumstances during fight week with the quarantining and extra precautions I’m just grateful to even have this opportunity,” Macfarlane insisted.
“So you won’t here any gripes from me not being in Hawaii this time of year,” she jokingly continued.
But, as previously discussed, Macfarlane has, perhaps, her toughest test tomorrow night in Velasquez. During the press conference she discussed her training camp and what she expects to see over a larger, more aggressive fighter.
“I think I had a really great camp,” Macfarlane claimed.
“My same training partners are still there. I had a very normal training camp … The only real adjustment I had to make was toward the end of the camp, when I started wearing my mask to practice and really limiting my partners because of the chance of contracting something during this fight,” She stated.
So what does the champion see as a potential threat to her crown tomorrow?
Macfarlane mentioned Velasquez’s size advantage, but also her more physical nature than any of her other opponents.
“I think Julianna is a lot more of an intimidating, physical fighter as opposed to any of my former opponents,” she insisted.
“She’s bigger than me … really aggressive … physical. So I think that is one of the main differences between her and my other opponents. I think this fight is going to be really tiring. I’m going to be exerting a lot of physical effort and trying to take her down, try to strike with her,” she continued.
As the headline to the main event, Macfarlane sat down to discuss not only her legacy-extending fight, but also women’s MMA in general. Before the pandemic, there was talk of a women’s flyweight Grand Prix, something Scott Coker is still very interested in hosting.
“Honestly, whatever happens tomorrow, I hope it doesn’t change anything as far as wanting to do the fight,” Macfarlane claimed.
“I think if she wins or I win, there still should be a grand prix for the women’s flyweight division. I think people would prefer to watch us fight over any other … okay over the bantamweight guys. I’d like to see a women’s grand prix. We haven’t had our chance. Featherweight hasn’t had their chance. We haven’t had our chance. So I think it’s just time and I think that had the pandemic not happened that we’d be in a tournament right now. So I hope that, regardless of what happens on Thursday, that its still going to happen,” she finished.