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Juliana Velasquez hopes pandemic did not take away title shot vs. Ilima-Lei Macfarlane

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Bellator’s female flyweight hopes she can still fight for Ilima-Lei Macfarlane’s belt in her next outing.

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Bellator female flyweight Juliana Velasquez hopes that the coronavirus pandemic has not taken away her chance to fight for the title in her next showing. Undefeated in her professional career, the Brazilian believes she has earned the right to challenge for Ilima-Lei Macfarlane’s belt, but does not know when she will be able to do it just yet.

In an interview with Bloody Elbow, Velasquez explained that the pandemic did throw off her training schedule in the beginning, but her day-to-day routine is almost back to normal by now. However, since the United States is still following a strict protocol on who can enter its territory, Juliana is unsure if Bellator will still maintain her spot as the next challenger now that they are back in business.

“I was a little thrown off in the beginning, but things are back to normal now. I actually never stopped training. I’m now just focused on training and waiting for the call to fight again. I haven’t heard an answer from Bellator about me fighting for the belt. All I know is from an interview MacFarlane had, saying I was going to be next, but I’m not 100% sure, no.”

“Had it not been for the pandemic, I think that fight would have happened by now.” Velasquez continued. ”I heard from my managers that they are trying to find a way to bring the Brazilians over (to the United States). The country is closed down. Nobody gets in, nobody gets out.”

Should things work out in her favor and Juliana manages to challenge for the title, the 33-year-old feels confident to take on the champion no matter where the fight goes. Although Velasquez acknowledges Macfarlane’s grappling prowess, the Brazilian is also sure she could be a threat for Ilima-Lei anywhere, too.

“I try to be ready for everything, both for striking and grappling. I know MacFarlane is a great grappler. When she’s on you, she’s hard to shake off. She’s the first ever Bellator female champion, but I’m looking at this fight like all the other ones. It’s no different. I’m very driven and focused. I look at every fight as a title fight.”

If Juliana fights and wins the title, she will be only the second female Brazilian fighter to do so in Bellator. Before her, none other than Cristiane ‘Cyborg’ Justino had the honor to wear a belt in the promotion, when she TKO’d Julia Budd to win the featherweight strap, back in January.

To share the same accomplishment as someone as highly regarded as Cyborg does motivate Velasquez even more, Juliana says. In fact, Justino was a big inspiration for her throughout all of Juliana’s career.

“I think I was going to fight before Cyborg. I would have been the first Brazilian woman to win a belt in Bellator, but that’s all right. I don’t care, what’s important is getting that belt. To share this title alongside Cyborg means a lot to me. It’s a huge satisfaction and an honor. I’ve always been very inspired by Cris. It will be a great pleasure being able to say I’m the champion in the same promotion as her.”

Currently on a five-fight winning streak in Bellator, Juliana Velasquez (10-0) scored wins over Na Liang, Rebecca Ruth, Alejandra Lara, Kristina Williams and most recently, back December 2019, Bruna Ellen, with three of those victories coming by way of submission or knockout.