Bellator 300: Liz Carmouche vs. Ilima-Lei Macfarlane preview and prediction

The women's flyweight title clash is an emotional clash between two friends, each with differing goals. Which will prevail? Liz Carmouche and her legacy or Ilima-Lei Macfarlane and her redemption?

Liz Carmouche is having a dream fight against fellow San Diegan Ilima-Lei Macfarlane
Liz Carmouche is having a dream fight against fellow San Diegan Ilima-Lei Macfarlane / Bellator MMA

Bellator 300 is shaping up to be the promotion's biggest event to date, boasting not one, not two, but three title fights in the main card. But none carry as much emotion as the women's flyweight clash between current champion Liz Carmouche and former champion Ilima-Lei Macfarlane.

The two San Diego-based former training partners have long been open about wanting to fight each other, and now they will get their wish, as they set aside their friendship to determine the superior fighter between them. And if there is one theme that can perfectly describe this fight, it is, interestingly enough, the tagline of The Rock-John Cena 2 at WrestleMania 29: Legacy vs. Redemption.

Ever since she arrived in Bellator in 2020, Carmouche has been enjoying the best stretch of her career, winning six straight fights. Within that stretch, she has claimed the flyweight title and won her two defenses, both by submission. Carmouche will now look to prove herself the best female flyweight in the promotion with a third straight retention.

Macfarlane, meanwhile, has been on the comeback trail ever since she lost the flyweight title to Juliana Velasquez in late 2020. A knee injury and subsequent surgery kept her out of action for more than a year, and then she came up short in her return to action against Justine Kish. But consecutive triumphs against Bruna Ellen and Kana Watanabe have put Macfarlane in prime position to become the first woman in Bellator history to regain a championship and revitalize her career.

Bellator 300: Liz Carmouche vs. Ilima-Lei Macfarlane prediction

Even as she approaches 40 years old, Carmouche is still one of the best-conditioned and most well-rounded women to step foot in a cage. She can either obliterate her opponents in short order, as she proved against Watanabe, or gradually force them into deep waters, as Vanessa Porto found out.

Macfarlane, meanwhile, has one strategy in this fight: take it to the ground and keep it there: Six of her wins have come by submission; and she particularly favors armbars, with four in her resume.

Ultimately, however, there are two factors that will decide this fight. The first is each woman's recent in-cage form. Carmouche has largely looked strong in Bellator, even in moments of adversity. Macfarlane, meanwhile, has been rather lackluster during her win streak - she missed weight against Ellen, then her defeat of Watanabe could have arguably gone the other way.

There is also the issue of what mentality each carries into the fight. While Carmouche has made no mention of a retirement plan, Macfarlane said after defeating Ellen at Bellator 284 that a title fight with her friend would be her retirement bout. Whether either's mentality has changed since then is unknown, but it could be an omen.

With that all said, expect Carmouche to put pressure on a hesitant Macfarlane early on. From there, Macfarlane will have her moments and avoid being finished, but once the 25 minutes are over, Carmouche will have all three judges siding with her.

Prediction: Liz Carmouche by unanimous decision

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