Former champion Ilima-Lei Macfarlane plans to finish Bellator contract, then retire

Ilima-Lei Macfarlane sees retirement on the horizon.

The former Bellator women’s flyweight champion thinks her days in MMA are numbered and plans to make the most of them while she looks to close out her career. Macfarlane (11-2 MMA, 10-2 BMMA) hopes to regain her title in the span of her contract, complete her Bellator deal, and then walk away from the sport.

“I have four fights left on my contract,” Macfarlane told MMA Junkie. “I would say the ideal scenario is to win these next three (and fight for the title).

“Our division is kind of crazy, and it’s super deep right now. Everyone can make an argument to fight for the belt right now. So it would make sense that I would have to win at least two to get the title shot, or maybe even three considering how deep our division is. So if I win the next three, yes my fourth fight, that’s the one that’s like my retirement fight.”

Macfarlane, 32, says injuries with her knee and neck have contributed to her decision to want to retire at the end of her current Bellator deal. She also wants to start a family and doesn’t see herself raising kids while managing a fighting career.

“I might possibly start having babies after this, so I just want to get through my contract as fast as possible,” Macfarlane said. “Right now, I say I want to stop fighting so that I can (raise my kids), because I say, ‘Where would I have the time to be a mom and be running the gym? And will I have time to train?’ But then you also see badasses like Miesha Tate coming back after having two kids and coming out of retirement. I think everything is possible.”

The Hawaiian fighter returns to the cage Aug. 12 at Bellator 284 in South Dakota against Bruna Ellen.

Macfarlane enters Bellator 284 on a two-fight skid. She lost her title to Juliana Velasquez in late 2020, then had a decision defeat in her return against Justine Kish in April in Honolulu. Prior to the pair of defeats, Macfarlane was undefeated.

Macfarlane said she’s not pressured by the losses. She’s satisfied with what she’s already accomplished in her career and won’t let her desire to be champion again dim what she’s already done in the sport.

“I’m not stressing too much,” Macfarlane said. “I feel like I’ve already accomplished a lot in my career that I can be proud of, that my team and family can be proud of. So at this point, I just want to have good fights that are fun and entertaining and that put on a good show – and at the same time, bring awareness to whatever I’m currently fighting for outside the cage.

“The ideal scenario would be to fight for the belt in my retirement fight.”

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