The stacked summer schedule for Hawaii mixed martial artists continues this weekend with Punahou graduate Ilima-Lei Macfarlane opening the nationally televised Bellator 157 card in St. Louis, Mo. Friday night.
Macfarlane (3-0) will take on Rebecca Ruth (6-1) in a flyweight bout that could set the winner up to be the division’s top contender if the organization decides to honor a champion.
“My career has definitely been accelerated a little bit more than others who have been in the game longer, but I think that’s kind of just the way women’s MMA is right now,” Macfarlane told KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello. “It’s on the rise, and you kind of have to strike while the iron is hot.”
“The Ilimanator” was a state wrestling champion during her days at Punahou, but the 26-year-old never imagined parlaying her high school career into a profession.
“Ask me a year ago if I ever thought I’d be doing this, sitting in a hotel room in St. Louis getting ready to fight on one of the biggest cards of the year. No, I never thought I’d do that,” she said. “I didn’t even give fighting a serious thought until Bellator approached me.”
Bellator 157 is headlined by former UFC champion Rampage Jackson taking on Satoshi Ishii. Coverage begins at 5 p.m. HST Friday night on Spike TV.