Bellator 295: Ilima-Lei Macfarlane defeated Kana Watanabe.
Ilima-Lei Macfarlane defeated Kana Watanabe via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28), at Bellator 295 on Saturday, April 22, 2023, live from the Neal S. Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu, Hawaii.
"That was nerve-wracking. With all respect to Kana, she is an amazing grappler, she is top tier. Again, it really could have gone either way. I think I was doing damage. Yes, she took me down a lot but I kept doing damage. I heard my team say the right hand is open. Keep throwing those Hawaiian hammers. Kana was ranked second, I was ranked third, it only makes sense that I fight the winner of last night's fight... I want to fight Liz Carmouche in my last fight in Hawaii. I don't want to wait a year. I want to fight in December," said Macfarlane. Carmouche and Macfarlane have trained together in the past and are close friends.
Macfarlane opened with a straight right and followed it up shortly after with another one. The two women engaged in a clinch with Watanabe pushing Macfarlane up against the fence. Watanabe got Macfarlane down to the ground and almost trapped Macfarlane's arm in an armbar. The fight moved back to the feet with Macfarlane landing a combination. Macfarlane continued to land her right jab. Watanabe took Macfarlane down but was unable to lock in her submission attempt before the end of the round.
Macfarlane opened with an uppercut as the two women traded punches. Watanabe went for another takedown attempt but Macfarlane was able to block the attempt and get up against the fence. Watanabe tripped Macfarlane to score the takedown.
Macfarlane ate several punches but was able to get back to her feet briefly before Watanabe returned her to the mat. Watanabe took side control but Macfarlane was able to use her hips to explode back to her feet. Again, Watanabe scored with the trip. Watanabe started landing some powerful strikes while in full guard.
Both women entered the final round knowing that the winner of the round would win the fight. Watanabe immediately sprinted across the cage and tried for another takedown. Macfarlane was able to block the first attempt but Watanabe eventually scored on the second attempt. Macfarlane tried to get back to her feet but Watanabe grabbed her arm and took side control. Macfarlane was unable to wall walk with her feet to get back to her feet but was eventually able to transition and get up. Watanabe took the back and started landing knees.
Macfarlane broke the clinch but Watanabe went for another single leg takedown forcing Macfarlane to defend again. From the clinch Macfarlane landed several short right hands. Macfarlane was able to block the takedown attempt throughout the final 30 seconds, sending it to the judges scorecard on a very tight fight.
MacFarlane snapped a two-fight losing streak in his last fight, defeating Bruna Ellen. The former Bellator flyweight champion was ranked third in the Bellator bantamweight division and seventh in Bellator's pound-for-pound rankings.
Watanabe entered Saturday's fight with nine wins in her previous 10 fights. Since making her professional debut, Watanabe's lone loss came against Bellator flyweight champion Liz Carmouche at Bellator 261. Watanabe was ranked second in the Bellator bantamweight division entering Bellator 295