On Saturday night, Bellator MMA returned to Hawaii with the second event of their weekend double header and things could hardly have gone better for the organization as both of Bellator’s youngest and most promising stars, Ilima-Lei Macfarlane and A.J. McKee, picked up big wins.
In the first round of her flyweight championship main event bout against Kate Jackson, Macfarlane got to work early, securing a takedown and spending most of the round on top, hunting for submissions. By the second round, Jackson had dialed in and was able to fend Macfarlane off for a while, but once again Macfarlane was able to get the fight to the floor and even take mount before the bell sounded.
By the third, Jackson had been rendered mostly a non-threat. She became too focused on avoiding the takedowns and though she was able to for phases, Jackson’s tentativeness on the feet just gave Macfarlane opportunities to win without her wrestling. By the fourth round, Macfarlane was in total control of the bout and came just moments away from finishing an armbar before the bell intervened.
In the fifth round, Macfarlane once again got the mount with short time and did her best to get the finish but Jackson stayed game and did enough to get saved by the final bell. In the end, Macfarlane moved to 11-0 in one of her most impressive performances in the Bellator cage. Jackson, the first British woman to challenge for a major MMA title, fell to 11-4-1.
McKee came out to start the bout like a house on fire, throwing a jumping knee and spinning attacks before ultimately ending up in top position. Not long afterwards, McKee took back mount and got close with his rear-naked choke attempts, but Campos was able to survive. In the second round, McKee again came out strong, dropping Campos and locking in a D’Arce choke but again, Campos was able to fight it off and seemed to even be turning the tide against a tiring McKee.
That was short-lived though as in the third round, McKee ended up locking up an unorthodox armbar after a scramble gone wrong, forcing Campos to submit. The win moves McKee into the featherweight semifinals.
In welterweight action, Jason Jackson and Kiichi Kunimoto had a fun scrap that resulted in Jackson getting his hand raised. In the first round, Jackson played with fire and nearly got burnt, trying to work from top position against Kunimoto who locked on a kimura attempt from the bottom that came close to finishing the fight. This came after Jackson dropped Kunimoto with a clean right hand on the feet. After the kimura, Jackson tightened the springs, avoiding grappling exchanges with the dangerous submission artist and out-striking him en route to a unanimous decision win. The victory was the first for “The Ass-Kicking Machine” in the Bellator cage and sets him up for more interesting challenges down the line.
In the first women’s flyweight bout of the evening, Juliana Velasquez kept her unbeaten streak alive with a dominant performance over Bruna Ellen. Velasquez came out firing early, dropping Ellen with a straight shot in the first round and she never let up from there, thoroughly out-striking Ellen over the course of 15 minutes. In the end, Velasquez took a clear unanimous decision and is likely the next challenger for Bellator champion Ilima-Lei Macfarlane.
In bantamweight action, Raufeon Stots and Cheyden Leialoha put on a hard-fought, if underwhelming bout. Though Leialoha had moments of success, the bulk of the fight was controlled by Stots and his superior grappling game. In the end, that grappling game gave him a unanimous decision victory and moved Stots to 13-1 in his career.
In the main card opener, Zachary Zane and Nainoa Dung put on one of the best performances of the night, engaging in a back-and-forth three round battle that kicked the card off well. The first round was a tale of two halves, with Zane getting the better of the action in the early going due to his grappling and top position control but, in the third round, Dung turned the heat on, rattling Zane with a pair of sharp body kicks that he was able to turn into full mount and back mount. Ultimately, it was too little for Dung though and Zane walked away with the decision win.