Bellator ran their second of two shows in the Blaisdell Center in Honolulu tonight, and the Hawaiian faithful showed up in droves to see their homegrown star, women’s flyweight champion Ilima-Lei Macfarlane. She did not disappoint. The Hawaiian fighter that grew up minutes from where she was fighting pulled out a third-round submission victory over challenger Valerie Letourneau to defend her bout for the second time.
In other fights, Lyoto Machida made a successful Bellator debut, Nieman Gracie moved on in the welterweight grand prix, and King Mo got knocked out. Here’s a look at how it all went down.
Ilima-Lei Macfarlane defeated Valerie Letourneau via submission (triangle choke), 3:19 of round 3
The first round was rather uneventful between the ladies, with them trying to get their distance down and not throwing a ton of strikes. Macfarlane wasn’t really looking to grapple either. In the second she decided to engage on the ground, but Letourneau managed to fend her off and even out-do her a bit in the wrestling area of the game. On the feet, again, it was quite close.
The third round is where it all changed though. Macfarlane used some beautiful chain wrestling to get Letourneau to the mat, where she immediately took her back. From there, her ridiculous grappling skills took center stage. She trapped deftly trapped an arm with her leg, then attacked with an armbar. Letourneau defended, so she switched to a triangle. Letourneau fought valiantly to escape, but when Macfarlane started lighting her up with elbows as well, Letourneau tapped out.
Lyoto Machida defeated Rafael Carvalho via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
The Dragon was successful in his first outing in Bellator, fending off a tough Rafael Carvalho who broke Machida’s nose in the first round. Machida mixed in all aspects of the MMA game, picking up some takedowns and scoring with a bevy of kicks and even some flying attacks. I personally had Machida winning all three rounds, with Carvalho trying to work in the clinch and not getting much accomplished. The judges had it a lot closer, but Machida still got the W and will probably get the winner of the Gegard Mousasi vs. Rafael Lovato Jr. title fight next year.
Neiman Gracie defeated Ed Ruth via submission (rear naked choke), 2:17 of round 4
This was a very fun bout to watch if you’re into grappling. The wrestler vs. BJJ expert played out with some strategic takedowns, amazing scrambles, and deft submission attempts and defending. But in the end, the fight seemed to come down to gas tanks. Ruth ended up on top of Gracie multiple times, with Gracie immediately threatening him with submissions from the bottom. On the ground, they were fairly even throughout the contest, though Gracie was up on the cards due to his ground work.
Due to this being a Bellator Welterweight Grand Prix fight, it was set for five rounds. In the fourth, Gracie had better cardio and it became apparent quickly. After landing a couple of shots on the feet, Gracie got a takedown and quickly moved to mount. It took a while to secure a choke, but Gracie got there and earned his shot at either Rory MacDonald or Jon Fitch with the RNC finish.
Liam McGeary defeated Mo Lawal via TKO (strikes), :53 of round 3
It seemed that Lawal’s goal from the start was to light up McGeary with leg kicks, similar to how his last opponent stopped him. He certainly did bang up McGeary’s legs, but it turned out to not be enough. After a back-and-forth first two rounds, McGeary caught Lawal with a couple of shots that wobbled him, then finished him off with a right hook. He nearly took his head off with a kick on the way down too, but luckily he missed.
Nainoa Dung def. Kona Oliveira by TKO (strikes) at 2:05 of round 3
This one looked to be striker vs. grappler, and for the first half of the fight, the grappler was in control. Dung couldn’t get anything going on the feet, constantly fighting off takedown attempts or trying to get up. Dung increasingly started landing more shots in the second half of the second round though, and the third was a bunch of heavy leather from both fighters. A mistake by Oliveira on the ground early in the round let Dung take mount though, where a string of hard strikes were enough to bring the contest to an end.
Dustin Barca def. Isaac Hopps by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
Maki Pitolo def. Chris Cisneros by submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:40 of round 3
Kai Kamaka III def. Shojin Miki by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)