Bellator 254 Preview: Macfarlane vs. Velasquez

Bellator 254 from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut is right around the corner and unless you really believe in underdogs, the main event appears pretty cut and dry. 11 up, 11 down. That’s the story of Bellator women’s flyweight champion Ilima-Lei Macfarlane’s career to date.

Macfarlane has been undefeated even in her amateur career. She faces the also undefeated Juliana Velasquez who stands at 10-0. Bellator is lacking in name value beyond Cris Cyborg when it comes to female talent, so it’s difficult to discuss the quality of opponents for either fighter so far. With that in mind, let’s have a look at their fighting styles.

Macfarlane has a finish rate of 73 percent in those 11 fights but she leans heavily on her jiu-jitsu. Submissions make up 55 percent of those finishes. Velasquez is dead even with five finshes and five decision victories but four of her finishes are KO/TKO wins. So, there’s really no need to ponder either woman’s game plan. 

This one should revolve around who can impose their will, but the champion isn’t afraid to strike either. As Julius Choi of Combat Press put it:

“It is on the ground that we have seen Macfarlane’s best work in the cage. While it was ultimately ruled as a finish via a triangle choke in the third round of a championship fight at Bellator 213, she made Valérie Létourneau tap because of elbow strikes thrown while having secured a figure-four headlock. 

Then, in her third consecutive third-round finish against Veta Arteaga, MacFarlane landed an elbow while in her opponent’s guard that opened up a gash on Arteaga’s forehead so big that the blood seeping out dyed her hair red. This led to the fight stoppage.”

Is Macfarlane Too Good?

What Bellator appears to have on its hands is a situation similar to that of the UFC’s Ronda Rousey era. OddsUSA is not comparing either Cyborg or Macfarlane to Rousey (that’s a discussion for you the fans to have.) The similar problem is that the rest of both women’s divisions need to catch up to the champions in terms of skill. 

The UFC faced this problem before Cyborg left for Bellator and Demetrious Johnson left for ONE Championship. It’s the same situation she and Macfarlane are in now–they are skilled champions but predictability takes the fun out of things for fans and bettors.

Macfarlane should definitely be considered the favorite even if the difference in the odds isn’t by much given similar records between the two ladies.

Odds (Sportsbook)

Macfarlane +120

Velasquez -160

The end result of Thursday’s event should be business as usual for Bellator.

Prediction: Ilima-Lei Macfarlane def. Juliana Velasquez by submission to retain her championship