Ex-champ Ilima-Lei Macfarlane eyeing perfect Bellator retirement storyline vs. friend Liz Carmouche

·3 min read

Now that she’s back in the win column, Ilima-Lei Macfarlane can allow herself to think about the perfect ending to her MMA career.

Macfarlane (12-2 MMA, 11-2 BMMA), a former women’s flyweight champion, snapped a two-fight skid when she beat Bruna Ellen (6-4 MMA, 4-4 BMMA) by unanimous decision at Bellator 284 on Friday. That skid included the loss of her title to Juliana Velasquez in 2020, then an upset loss earlier this year in front of her home fans in Honolulu.

Macfarlane has been open about her desire to wrap up her Bellator contract with another title win, then retire. If she takes the belt back now, it’d be against her friend, teammate and current champ Liz Carmouche – which is exactly how she’d like it to go.

“Of course I want to freaking retire as the champ,” Macfarlane said at her post-fight news conference in Sioux Falls, S.D. “That’s the ultimate goal, is to go for it one more time. My ultimate dream retirement fight would be in Hawaii, fighting for the belt against my friend Liz Carmouche. It’s the ultimate fight. This is it. This is the perfect storyline, and I know that when the day comes when we fight each other, it’s going down. It’s going to be fun, and I say that with the ultimate respect for her.”

Macfarlane admitted she hit a bit of a funk during her back-to-back losses, especially considering she started her career unbeaten at 11-0. She was favored to win Friday against Ellen, but had to endure a tough guillotine choke from her to survive for the decision.

But getting the win may have been the kickstart she needed to get going again.

“I was like, ‘I feel like this is what drugs feel like.’ It’s weird,” Macfarlane said. “Fighting really is like a drug. Once you step in there, once you start fighting, it’s like, ‘Oh yeah, I love this sh*t.’ I still do love this sport, despite it being real sh*tty sometimes.

“It’s been a very long road. I feel like a lot of my feelings about fighting changed when I lost the belt. It’s been a roller coaster for the last two and a half years. This fight game is such an emotional roller coaster, but that win definitely helped me realize that (my heart is) still there.”

Macfarlane missed weight for the first time and came in three pounds heavy this week. She said that was a sign to her that she probably should shut things down for a while and come back strong in 2023 to continue her quest to get back to title contention.

“Before the missed weight and everything, I was like, ‘If I come out of this fight unscathed, I’m going to ask to be on the Dublin card.’ But then the weight cut came, and it was terrible,” she said. “My body needs to rest and heal. I think timeline-wise, I won’t fight again this year. (It’s) definitely going to be sometime next year – maybe the springtime.”

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie