Fighting in the homeland of the former champion the odds were always stacked against Kana Watanabe. But the Japanese flyweight could not have come any closer to beating Ilima-Lei Macfarlane at Bellator 295, dropping a split decision to the Hawaiian in Honolulu.

It was no surprise to see Watanabe working to get the fight down in the opening round. When she eventually succeeded the 34 year old immediately locked in an armbar which Macfarlane was able to wiggle her way out of.

Macfarlane started to find a home for her straight punches in the stand up exchanges but with 30 seconds remaining in the round Watanabe got her down again. The bell sounded with Watanabe looking to lock in another armbar.

Ground and pound

Watanabe looked to get the fight down at the start of the second and succeeded but it was Macfarlane who landed in the dominant position, looking to secure a kimura. The Japanese fighter eventually fought off the submission attempt and landed some punches from side control.

Macfarlane was able to stand up but she couldn’t shake Watanabe off and soon found herself on her back again. She finished the round landing ground and pound from top position.

The third round followed a similar pattern with Watanabe initially resisting her opponent’s attempts to get the fight to the floor before being taken down with a hip toss by the judoka. Macfarlane was able to work her way back up but there was no respite as she found herself constantly forced to defend against takedown attempts.

Too close to call

But in the final stages of the fight Macfarlane was able to fight off the takedown attempts and stay on her feet, even if she didn’t have the opportunity to attempt much offence of her own. The contest could have gone either way but in the end two of the three judges scored it for the hometown hero.

With the win Macfarlane improves to 13-2 and could be in line for a title shot  next Watanabe drops to 11-2-1 after suffering her second defeat in the Bellator cage.

Afterwards she admitted that the fight could have gone either way telling her fans that,

I would have been ok if Kana had her hand raised.


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Best of the rest

It was a night to remember for Masayuki Kikuiri (9-2-1). The Japanese welterweight stopped Alexey Shurkevich (13-6) in the opening fight of the card, knocking the Russian out with a punch late in the second round.

Kyoji Horiguchi’s flyweight fight with fellow UFC veteran Ray Borg was scrapped because the American could not make weight.

Bellator 295, Honolulu, April 23rd
Patchy Mix def. Raufeon Stots via KO (knee) at 1:20 of R1
Ilima-Lei Macfarlane def. Kana Watanabe via Decision (split)
Yancy Medeiros def. Charlie Leary via Submission (Rear-naked choke) at 4:39 of R1
Aaron Pico def. James Gonzalez via Decision (Unanimous)
Mads Burnell def. Justin Gonzales via Decision (Unanimous)
Kai Kamaka III def. Adli Edwards via Decision (Unanimous)
Sumiko Inaba def. Veta Arteaga via Decision (Unanimous)
Aalon Cruz def. Bobby King via Decision (Unanimous)
Davion Franklin def. Kasim Aras via Decision (Unanimous)
Bruna Ellen def. Ilara Joanne via Decision (Unanimous)
Masayuki Kikuiri def. Alexey Shurkevich via KO (Punch) at 4:33 of R2