Ilima-Lei Macfarlane had all the pressure on her heading into the main event of Bellator 213 against Valerie Letourneau. She was headlining the card in her hometown of Honolulu and knew she needed a spectacular performance.
Macfarlane delivered just that Saturday night, cinching in a triangle choke to force Letourneau to tap out for the first time in her career. The submission victory came at 3:19 of the third round. With the win, Macfarlane recorded her second women’s featherweight title defense and improved to 9-0. Best of all, her thrilling performance was at the Neal S. Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu in front of her home crowd.
“I could feel it backstage before I even walked out,” Macfarlane said of the energy she got from fighting in front of her hometown fans.
She added: “This is the best day of my life. This is the best night of my life and it’s all because of you guys.”
After a back-and-forth two rounds, Letourneau came out firing in the third with a powerful right hand. Macfarlane was able to quickly get Letourneau against the cage and secured a trip takedown. Then, the 28-year-old immediately took Letourneau’s back and smelled an opportunity to put the Canadian away. That’s when Macfarlane grabbed Letourneau’s arm and transitioned to a triangle choke, blasting her opponent with one vicious elbow after another. Letourneau was trying everything under the sun to get out.
But this was Macfarlane’s night and she wasn’t about to let the moment fizzle. With the crowd at a fever pitch, Macfarlane (9-0) flipped Letourneu over and still was able to keep the choke intact. After another series of sharp elbows, Letourneau realized she couldn’t find a way to escape and was forced to tap out to the roar of the fans inside the arena.
Macfarlane successfully defended her title for the second time, while Letourneau (10-7) suffers her first loss in Bellator.
Here is what took place at Bellator 213.
(All times Eastern.)
Bellator 213 results
Ilima-Lei Macfarlane delivers in front of her hometown to submit Valerie Letourneau and retain women’s flyweight title
12:46 a.m.: Macfarlane def. Letourneau by submission (triangle choke) at 3:19 of the third round to retain the women’s flyweight championship. What a finish by Macfarlane. To begin the round, Macfarlane was able to secure a takedown. Immediately, Macfarlane trapped Letourneau’s body. She switched to a triangle choke and unloaded a series of hard elbows. Macfalrane then rolled Letourneau over with the choke still locked in and uncorked more elbows. Letourneau had no way to escape and tapped out.
12:39 a.m.: Round 2 to Letoruneau (10-9, 19-19). Macfarlane came right out and quickly got a takedown and connected on a series of elbows. But Letourneau didn’t let it faze her and stuck to the game plan. She showed great footwork and controlled the distance with the jab. Letourneau has to keep the fight on the feet and Macfarlane needs a takedown. She can’t outstrike Letourneau.
12:33 a.m.: Round 1 to Macfarlane (10-9). A feeling-out round between the champion and challenger. Macfarlane landed the harder shots and controlled the cage. Let’s see if MacFarlane tries to close the distance and try for a takedown. Letourneau needs to pump the jab and keep Macfarlane at a distance.
12:21 a.m.: It’s time for the main event of Bellator 213: Ilima-Lei Macfarlane defends her women’s flyweight title against Valerie Letourneau. Macfarlane (8-0) won the belt at Bellator 186 in November 2017, having scored a fourth-round submission of Emily Ducote. Macfarlane made a successful first title defense, submitting Alejandra Lara in the third round this past June.
Letourneau (10-6) has burst onto the scene in Bellator since debuting in December 2017, winning back-to-back fights by unanimous decision.
Will Macfarlane be able to block everything that comes with fighting at home and close out 2018 on a high note? Or does Letourneau come in and spoil the party?
Lyoto Machida escapes with split-decision nod over Rafael Carvalho
12:12 a.m.: Machida def. Carvalho by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28). A tougher fight than Machida probably expected. Give Machida credit as Carvalho looked to break his nose with a straight right hand to begin the action. He pulled through and showed a ton of heart when most would have buckled under the pressure of having to deal with an injury. A smart move in the third round by Machida in getting the takedowns. Machida knew he had the ground advantage and made the most of it. A successful debut for Machida as he will likely face the winner of the middleweight title bout between Gegard Mousasi and Rafael Lovato Jr. at Bellator 214 in January.
12:08 a.m.: Round 3 to Machida (10-9, 29-28 Machida). All Machida in the final stanza. One takedown in the beginning of the round and one with about a minute left secured him the round. Off to the judges scorecards we go.
Midnight: Round 2 to Machida (10-9, 19-19). Good round for Machida. The high left kick rocked Carvalho’s brain and almost sent him packing. Machida landed the harder shots and started to frustrate Carvalho. It’s anyone’s fight as we enter the final round.
11:54 p.m.: Round 1 to Carvalho (10-9). Carvalho wasn’t fazed by the fact he was standing across the cage from Machida. He busted Machida’s nose early on with a hard straight right hand. Carvalho controlled the cage and landed the harder shots. Machida needs to let loose.
11:46 p.m.: It’s time for the co-main event of Bellator 213, as Lyoto Machida squares off against Rafael Carvalho in middleweight action. Machida (24-8), the former UFC light heavyweight champion, comes into this highly-anticipated Bellator debut, winning his last two fights in the organization. Carvalho (15-2) looks to get back on the winning track after losing his title to Gegard Mousasi by first-round TKO at Bellator 200 in May.
Can Machida make it a successful debut and enter the championship picture or does Carvalho ruin those plans?
Neiman Gracie chokes out Ed Ruth to advance to grand prix semifinals
11:35 p.m.: Gracie def. Ruth via submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:17 of the fourth round. Ruth looked exhausted coming out for the fourth round. Gracie noticed and immediately took advantage by securing a double-leg takedown and immediately getting into top position. Ruth tried to explode out, but Gracie stayed on his back. Gracie was slowly trying for the rear-naked choke, but Ruth kept trying to turn all over the place. Finally, Gracie got his arm around Ruth’s neck and Ruth instantly tapped out. Gracie advances to the semifinals of the welterweight grand prix and will face the winner of the fight between champion Rory MacDonald and Jon Fitch — a bout that is expected to take place in March.
Gracie showed the world he is more than just a jiu-jitsu expert. His striking has improved dramatically. Combine that with his amazing jiu-jitsu and Gracie has emerged as the fighter to watch in this tournament.
11:27 p.m.: With about 90 seconds left in the third round, Gracie locked in a beautiful armbar, but somehow Ruth escaped. What a fight this has turned out to be.
11:22 p.m.: Beautiful ground work by Gracie and Ruth after two rounds. The scrambles have been magnificent, with Gracie trying for a variety of submissions and Ruth using his wrestling and finding ways to get out of the trouble.
11:09 p.m.: Up next at Bellator 213, Ed Ruth takes on Neiman Gracie in the first round of the welterweight grand prix. Even though he is an All-American wrestler from Penn State, Ruth (6-0) has won five of his fights by knockout. Since moving to 170 in February 2015, Gracie’s (8-0) won five fights by submission. Who will be able to impose their will and advance to the semifinals?
Liam McGeary knocks out Muhammad Lawal
10:58 p.m.: McGeary def. Lawal by knockout at 0:53 of the third round. McGeary connected on a straight right hand, which stiffened and wobbled Lawal. The man known as “King Mo” was on his way down and looking at the referee for help. Luckily, McGeary missed a head kick, as Lawal fell down to the mat. The referee stepped in front of Lawal, but hadn’t called off the fight. Realizing the referee didn’t stop the fight, McGeary came rushing in and blasted Lawal with a short uppercut to end it. Great win for McGeary, as he snapped a two-fight losing streak. A loss would have been detrimental to the Englishman’s career. Now, the former 205-pound champion is back on track and poised to make another run at the gold.
10:40 p.m.: Coming up next at Bellator 213, Muhammad Lawal takes on Liam McGeary in light heavyweight action. Lawal (21-7), returning to 205 pounds for the first time since May 2016, looks to rebound from a 15-second knockout loss to Ryan Bader in the first round of the heavyweight grand prix at Bellator 201. McGeary (12-3), the former light heavyweight champion, is in desperate need of a win, as he’s lost three of his last four. Something has to give between two guys looking to regain past glory.
Nainoa Dung finishes Kona Oliveira amid controversy
10:32 p.m.: Dung def. Oliveira by TKO at 2:05 of the third round. An entertaining fight between the two rivals ended under scrutiny. Oliveira secured a takedown and appeared to be in control. Dung quickly reversed into mount position and started pouring down punches onto Oliveira, who had been blocking a majority of them. As Oliveira started to get into an advantageous position, the referee called the fight. A bad job by the referee, who should have let Oliveira get off it and see what happens from there. Not a way you want to win your Bellator debut if you’re Dung.
10:11 p.m.: Kicking off the main card of Bellator 213 are lightweights Kona Oliveira and Nainoa Dung in a battle of Hawaiians. The 20-year-old Oliveira (1-0) is making his promotional debut after defeating L.J. Smith Portee by first-round TKO back in July. The 19-year-old Dung (1-0) is also making his first foray in Bellator. He submitted Kris Berberich in the first round in August. Oliveira and Dung are heated rivals and don’t like each other in the slightest bit. Hopefully, they don’t let their emotions get the best of them and we see a great battle.
10:00 p.m.: Welcome to Sporting News’ live coverage of Bellator 213. Grab the refreshments and get locked in as an exciting night of fights are ahead.
Bellator 213 fight card
- Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (c) vs. Valérie Létourneau for Macfarlane’s women’s flyweight title
- Lyoto Machida vs. Rafael Carvalho; Middleweight
- Neiman Gracie vs. Ed Ruth; Welterweight grand prix first round matchup
- Muhammad Lawal vs. Liam McGeary; Light Heavyweight
- Kona Oliveira vs. Nainoa Dung; Lightweight
- Timothy Teves vs. Canaan Kawaihae; Featherweight
- Kai Kamaka III vs. Shojin Miki; Bantamweight
- Ryan Dela Cruz vs. Spencer Higa; Lightweight
- Dustin Barca vs. Isaac Hopps; Lightweight
- Kala Hose vs. Marcus Gamble; Light Heavyweight
Bellator 213 latest news
– Ilima-Lei Macfarlane explains to Sporting News her journey from getting out of athletics to now being one of the top female fighters in the world.
– Bellator 213 is stacked with stars from top to bottom. But Ed Ruth is one name who is flying under the radar. SN tells you why.
– Who are the greatest fighters in Bellator history? Sporting News tells you as we rank the top 25.