The Bellator flyweight division has a new champion as Brazilian Juliana Velasquez defeated previously unbeaten Ilima-Lei Macfarlane Thursday night in a title match held at Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun Casino on a card aired on CBS Sports Network and DAZN.
The five-round bout went to the judges’ cards where they scored it 48-47, 49-46, 48-47 for Velasquez. Macfarlane told her, “Just be awesome,” seconds after the announcement. She was overcome with emotion after winning a unanimous decision.
Coming into the fight, Macfarlane had managed to stay on top of her competitive division since she won Bellator’s flyweight tournament three years ago. In that dominating run, she had won three of her four title defenses by stoppage.
But the 34-year-old Velasquez figured to be her toughest test yet and proved it with a huge win to raise her mark to 11-0. Macfarlane dropped to 11-1 and was a slight plus 145 underdog when they walked into the cage.
The first round of the 25-minute matchup was a feeling out process. Tough to score, but it appeared the challenger was setting the tone. The same could be said for the second as well, another round lacking in action, but the Brazilian appeared to be in charge.
Macfarlane suffered a cut at the 3:30 mark of round three on an attempted takedown. It appeared her face struck the fence. The blood ran down the outside of her right eye and didn’t seem to bother her. Macfarlane tried several times to take down the challenger, but her defense met the challenge. The Brazilian seemed to be in charge through the opening 15 minutes.
Macfarlane’s nose began to bleed in the fourth that probably began late in the third on a flying knee by Velasquez. She then got a takedown of Velasquez, but couldn’t do anything with it. Still, she probably won that round.
The fifth round Macfarlane got a takedown, but her opponent was just too strong. Even though they were on the ground for most of the final round, it was the challenger who controlled the action. She escaped the hold with 90 seconds left. And even though she got her in a hold against the fence, it was pretty much ineffective.