Recap & Highlights: Bellator 201 – Macfarlane retains her flyweight title, calls for next title defense to be in Hawaii

After Bellator200, the promotion took over a month off before returning tonight in Temecula, California for Bellator201. Defending her flyweight title for the first time, Hawaii’s Ilima-Lei Macfarlane faced a tough challenger in Alejandra Lara and flyweight contenders Valerie Letourneau and Kristina Williams faced off in hopes of a title shot. Here’s my recap and highlights.

Featherweight Bout: Juan Archuleta def Robbie Peralta via KO (punches) (R3, 0:14)

Juan Archuleta, who came in on a 14-fight win streak, took on former UFC vet Robbie Peralta. Archuleta pushed the pace for the first two rounds, while a lot of wild exchanges were thrown. 14 seconds into the third round, Archuleta dropped Peralta with an overhand right and finished it off on the ground. Archuleta has a lot of potential, training with the likes of TJ Dillashaw and Cub Swanson… there’s a lot of upside to the 30-year-old, who could be challenging for the title in the near future.

Women’s Flyweight Bout: Valerie Letourneau def Kristina Williams via UD (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Kristina Williams, who stopped Heather Hardy in her first pro MMA bout, came to fight tonight, unfortunately it wasn’t enough for the judges. Valerie Letourneau dropped Williams in the first and controlled her on the ground for the remainder of the round. However, the second round was a different story. Williams used her dirty boxing and elbows to win the round. The third round was more of the same until ‘Trouble’ scored a takedown and finished the round on the mat. Letourneau, now 2-0 in the Bellator cage, called for a title shot after her win, and it’s hard to argue who else could be next.

Catchweight Bout (160) : Saad Awad def Ryan Couture via TKO (punches) (R1, 4:29)

Saad Awad came into this bout on a 3-fight win streak and looking towards a title shot. Ryan Couture was coming off a win after two straight losses, but that win had come last summer. The first four minutes of the fight were mainly controlled by Couture in the clinch, but then Awad landed a punch that pushed Couture back against the cage and after a series of punches, he dropped Couture with a body punch and the fight was over. In the post-interview, Awad revealed he had broken his thumb in the fight.

Women’s Flyweight Championship: Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (c) def Alejandra Lara via submission (armbar) (R3, 3:55)

Ilima-Lei Macfarlane, Hawaii’s first female champion, was looking to defend her flyweight title for the first time and did exactly that. The first round was spent mostly on the ground, with Macfarlane nearly catching Lara in a triangle choke. The early portion of round two was spent on the feet before Macfarlane got the fight down to the mat and kept it there until it ended. Lara started the third round landing some punches before missing with a spinning back fist and being taken down again. Macfarlane took her back before transitioning to full mount and then to an armbar which was locked in tight. The toughness of Lara showed as she tried to fight it off but eventually tapped at the 3:55 mark. After the fight, Macfarlane called for her next title defense to be in her homeland of Hawaii and didn’t rule out Valerie Letourneau as her next opponent. The ceiling is very high on ‘The Ilimanator’, as she improved to 8-0 with 5 submissions.

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