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Ilima-Lei Macfarlane was emotional as she walked down to the Bellator MMA cage and after she won, the Hawaiian said it was the best day of her life.
Macfarlane took a little time to get things going against Canada’s Valerie Letourneau in the main event of Bellator 213 at the Neil S. Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu, Hawaii, but once she did, it was over. “The Ilimanator” used her superb grappling prowess to send the sell-out crowd into a frenzy, becoming the first person to submit Letourneau in a mixed martial arts match.
Macfarlane (9-0) scored a takedown early in the third and quickly moved to her foe’s back. Macfarlane threatened with a rear-naked choke, but “Trouble” was able to fend it off. However, Letourneau (10-7) was never out of harm’s way as the local hero quickly attacked with an armbar and then a triangle. Letourneau did everything she could to power through the choke, but once Macfarlane rolled her over, softened up her skull with elbows and made a quick adjustment, Letourneau was a goner; she tapped out at the 3:19 mark of the third.
The win allowed Macfarlane to retain her Bellator women’s flyweight championship.
Former Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida was successful in his Bellator debut, but it wasn’t easy. “The Dragon” fought a nip-and-tuck battle with fellow Brazilian Rafael Carvalho (15-3), suffered a busted nose and settled for a split decision win. Both middleweights landed solid punches and kicks, but Machida (25-8) scored a few takedowns to sway the judges in his favor. Machida got the nod via tallies of 29-28 (twice) and 28-29.
Brazilian jiu-jitsu savant Neiman Gracie remained unbeaten in the pro ranks by vanquishing power-punching Ed Ruth in the fourth of their quarterfinal matchup of the Bellator Welterweight Grand Prix. Gracie (9-0) used a plethora of submission attempts on the ground throughout their duel, but Ruth was able to escape each and every one of them. That was, however, until the fourth when the Brazilian once again took “Easy” down, slithered to his back and eventually sunk the rear-naked choke. Ruth (6-1) couldn’t escape this time and bowed out at 2:17 of the fourth.
Former Bellator light heavyweight champion Liam McGeary got off the snide by thumping Muhammed Lawal, ending his two-fight losing streak. McGeary (13-3) survived a series of leg kicks and clinching from “King Mo” before rocking the former Strikeforce 205-pound king with a sizzling right hook to the jaw. Lawal (21-8) fell onto his back -- a left head kick narrowly missed him -- before the Englishman blasted him with another right hook. Referee Chris West was in the midst of ending the fight when said second punch connected, ending the tussle just 53 seconds into the third.
Lightweight Nainoa Dung kicked off the main card by stopping fellow Hawaiian Kona Oliveira (1-1) with punches in the third round. Dung (2-0) scored a takedown and eventually began raining down punches until referee Kevin Yoshida had no choice but to intervene. The end came at 2:05 of the frame.
In the all-Hawaii prelims that were streamed live on DAZN, featherweight prospect Dustin Barca improved to 2-0 with a split decision (30-27, 29-28, 28-29) win over Isaac Hopps (4-4); bantamweight Kai Kamaka III (5-2) won a unanimous verdict of 29-28 across the board against Shojin Miki (4-4); and Maki Pitolo (9-4) submitted Chris Cisneros via rear-naked choke at 2:40 of the third in a catchweight bout.