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Bellator MMA closes out their massive double-header weekend on Saturday night with their second leg of action from the Neal S. Blaisdell Center in Honolulu. The second event is headlined by the islands’ native daughter Ilima-Lei Macfarlane defending her flyweight belt and playing host to the invading British standout Kate Jackson. The other featured attraction pits A.J. McKee and Derek Campos battling in the quarterfinals of the Featherweight Grand Prix.
Let’s take a closer look at all the main card action.
MacFarlane steps into the cage as a home town hero looking to defend her title for the fourth time. The 29-year-old is an undefeated fighter with a perfect 10-0 record. “The Ilimanator” is a serviceable striker at best. She darts in and out of range throwing single haymakers that don’t pack much heat to them. She does well to stalk her opponent and uses good head movement to get inside. The Team Hurricane Awesome representative has recently added inside leg kicks to her game. Despite showing improvements in her standup game, her grappling remains her strength. The Hawaiian fighter often dives in without setting up her takedowns but is relentless enough to get the fight to the canvas. The champion dispatches heavy ground and pound and has an innate ability to take her foes’ backs. The armbar is her favorite submission.
Jackson was a surprise pick to be the next challenger to MacFarlane’s belt, as many expected Veta Arteaga or Juliana Velasquez to receive the shot. The 11-3-1 professional enters this title challenge on a two-fight winning streak. The 33-year-old is a black belt in both karate and judo. On the feet, she tends to be a bit of a point striker. She uses a lot of movement and engages with rudimentary attacks. She will throw a bunch of kicks and has a propensity to telegraph them. She also makes the mistake of avoiding strikes by either backing straight up or trying to hide behind her gloves and forearms instead of using head movement. The Brit likes to grind in the clinch, where she likes to muscle her adversary against the cage and then grab a leg to bring the fight down to the canvas. The Ultimate Fighter Season 23 veteran will look to advance to a better position so she can fire off ground strikes. She has taken her opponent’s back in the past but has only one submission victory in her professional career.
MacFarlane has shown some major holes in her striking in her past two fights against Valerie Letourneau and Arteaga. She needed come-from-behind victories in both of those bouts. I believe Jackson will have some good moments against the Hawaiian but she doesn’t appear to be the threat on the feet that MacFarlane’s last two opponents were. I see MacFarlane outworking Jackson with her superior wrestling until Jackson slows down and leaves an opening for the champion to lock in a submission. MacFarlane wins via third-round submission (armbar).
Continue Reading » McKee vs. Campos