Bellator 300: Liz Carmouche Chops Down Wounded Ilima-Lei Macfarlane With Leg Kicks

Liz Carmouche vs Ilia-Lei Macfarlane, Bellator 300 ceremonial weigh-in Credit: Eddie Law/Cageside Press

On a historic night for Bellator MMA, the promotion’s inaugural women’s flyweight champion and one of its biggest stars Ilima-Lei Macfarlane put on a gritty showing but fell (quite literally) after throwing down with flyweight champ Liz Carmouche.

The fight kicked off the Bellator 300 main card on Saturday at the Pechanga Arena in San Diego, CA.

Macfarlane reigned as 125 pound queen from 2017 to 2019 and became the reason for Bellator to head to Hawaii each and every year. “The Iliminator,” actually good friends with Carmouche, became close with the ex-UFC talent while the two trained at 10th Planet in San Diego, giving both fighters ties to the city.

Macfarlane missing weight on Friday put a bit of a damper on the fight; that unfortunate occurrence has dogged her in two of her last three bouts. It left only Carmouche eligible to leave San Diego with gold, but whether it would play a role in the fight was another matter. It certainly didn’t seem to.

A lot of feeling out, a lot of movement, and little landing of note underscored the first two minutes of Carmouche vs. Macfarlane. When Ilima-Lei did come in, Carmouche would counter, leading to something of a chess match. With roughly two minutes to go, Macfarlane finally scored a couple of connections, firing overhand shots then slipping Carmouche’s counters, for the most part.

Towards the end of the round, the ref encouraged the pair to fight, and Macfarlane again managed to connect, though little damage was done by either fighter through the first five minutes. The ref admonished the pair again before round two even started: “give the judges something to score,” he suggested.

Through the first two minutes of the second frame, it was Macfarlane again firing overhands. Carmouche fired her left, added a kick, and Macfarlane circled. Arguably perhaps a little too much respect was being shown between the two; the end result was more of a sparring match. Macfarlane did move to catch a kick and fire an overhand, and Carmouche connected with a right hand with just under two minutes to go in the round, care of a clinch.

With just over a minute left in the second round, Macfarlane had a stumble, and seemed to take a stutter-step — hopefully not an issue with the knee that had bothered her in recent years. She continued on undeterred, while Carmouche walked her down, the Hawaiian circling on the outside.

Early in round three, Macfarlane hit her back, apparently suffering a leg issue off an early Carmouche kick. She dropped to her back again when Carmouche caught a kick, but was quickly back up. Another exchange, another stumble, without Carmouche even landing a kick. Macfarlane then tried to punch her way in, but couldn’t complete the entry. Carmouche chopped at Macfarlane’s lead leg a moment later in response. As the round wore on, more low kicks connected, and Macfarlane’s movement was increasingly hampered.

She did, however, pursue a takedown at the end of the round, but ran out of time.

Macfarlane came out hot in round four, lame leg or not. She continually punched her way in, looking for an entry to secure a takedown. No such luck, and when Carmouche kicked her leg, Macfarlane fell to her back yet again. Carmouche did not attempt to get on top, and Macfarlane was allowed to make a sloppy takedown attempt from the outside that Carmouche skipped away from.

By the midway mark of the round, Ilima-Lei Macfarlane was essentially hopping on one leg. Credit to her grit and heart and all those intangibles for keeping her in there, but a wounded duck generally has little chance in a fight.

That proved true just 17 seconds into the fifth and final round. In a hard to watch sequence, a Carmouche leg kick buckled Ilima-Lei Macfarlane’s leg. She went down screaming, clutching her knee, and the ref instantly waved it off.

While there had been some speculation about Macfarlane potentially retiring at Bellator 300, she left the cage no doubt in search of medical treatment immediately after the result was read. As for Carmouche, she called for a second fight with Kana Watanabe, saying the Japanese fighter had “earned” the chance to fight her again — with Carmouche wanting to host the fight in Japan.

Official Result: Liz Carmouche (c) def. Ilima-Lei Macfarlane by TKO (leg kick), Round 5, 0:17

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