Ilima-Lei Macfarlane weighs in
Bellator MMA flyweight champion Ilima-Lei Macfarlane breaks down the five biggest fights of her life.
1. Rebecca Ruth (Bellator 157) – That one was the first time I was on the main card. On paper, I should have lost. She was much more experienced than I was. She was the hometown favorite. My coach, Manolo, was in the hospital, in the ER, on his deathbed. As soon as we flew to St. Louis he had to be transported to the ER. It was really scary. That was the first fight that he wasn’t in my corner. When I won that fight it was like ‘Holy Shit! I can do this!’
2. Emily Ducote (Bellator 186) – The second fight with Emily Ducote, where I won the Bellator Women’s Flyweight title. I was the inaugural flyweight champion. It was crazy. When I actually submitted her it was like ‘Holy Shit!’ It hit me right then but it still hits me today. It was the moment when I finished her and also when I saw the response on social media. I saw how many people were tuning in for that fight. I saw how much support I had and it hit me all over again. OK, this just changed my life. My life is officially changed forever.
3. Alejandra Lara (Bellator 201) – This was my first title defense. It’s like the old saying goes, you aren’t a true champion until you defend your belt. On top of that, Pechanga is basically in my backyard in San Diego. So that was a crazy, crazy fight week and a crazy sold out arena. That was the first sold out venue that I ever fought at. It was all of my fans in attendance. It was the first week where I had cameras following me around and all that kind of stuff. It was my first true taste of what I have to do as a champion. That was really a radical experience for me.
4. Valerie Letourneau (Bellator 213) – That was my second title defense and it was also my homecoming fight in Hawaii. That was always my goal, to fight back at home. Bellator Hawaii can count for two fights on this list. It was insane. Everything-that atmosphere, the walkout, the fight finish, it was all so crazy.
5. Katie Castro (Xplode Fight Series-Hurricane) – It was my ‘Soccer Mom’ fight. It was my pro debut. This was the one that catapulted me into viral fame. I remember it being really cold and I just wanted to get it over with. We were waiting five hours to fight. It was gnarly. It was super cold because it was outdoors. My core Hawaii family was all shivering and freezing. It put me out there and everyone kind of knew me for that fight. Yeah, ‘Soccer Mom’ would probably be number one. It was significant because it put my name out there and it gave me a taste of what it would be like being in that spotlight. It prepped me well for online trolls and having thick skin to be in this sport.
In July of 2008 Tony Reid launched an MMA inspired clothing line that he named Reid Fight Wear. He saw a need in the MMA clothing market for a more classic, clean and timeless design and less of the dated styles seen then. In the process of major life changes, Tony cashed out his 401(k), emptied his bank account and put his heart and soul into building the brand.
In August 2009 Tony began writing for TapouT and MMA Worldwide Magazines. There he created Rattling the Cage, an MMA specific news site and home for all of his work.
In May of 2012 Reid began writing for Ultimate MMA Magazine, launching an MMA Legends and MMA Officials Series.
Also in May of the same year he started appearing regularly on ESPN 92.3 WVSL as the MMA Insider.
In early August of 2012 Reid was named General Manager of UFC Fighter Tim Boetsch’s Barbarian Combat Sports in Sunbury, PA.
By December 2012 Reid started contributing to Fighters Only Magazine. “The World’s Leading MMA and Lifestyle Magazine” is sold in over 30 countries around the world and has the largest reach of any international magazine of its type.
In May of 2013 Reid became a monthly segment host on Sirius XM Radio. Appearing the first Thursday of every month on TapouT Radio on SiriusXM (Sirius 92 XM 208) in a segment he created called “On Blast!” where he puts people in the MMA world on notice.
In June of 2013 Reid began writing for the UK based MMA Uncaged Magazine.
In August of 2013, Reid launched “Rattling the Cage with Tony Reid” a talk radio show he hosted on ESPN 92.3 WVSL “The Valley’s Sports Leader”. The show aired over 100 episodes and featured some of the biggest and brightest stars in the world of combat sports. It was one of the most successful shows in the station’s history.
In May of 2016 Reid became a feature writer for FloCombat.
In September of the same year Reid began writing for ONE Championship, Asia’s largest global sports media property in history.
Reid is happy to now join the team at MyMMANews as a contributor.