Bellator 220 breakdown: Champ Ilima-Lei Macfarlane too savvy for Veta Arteaga?

MMA Junkie Radio co-host and MMA Junkie contributor Dan Tom breaks down the Bellator’s top bouts. Today, we look at the co-main event for Bellator 220.

Bellator 220 takes place Saturday at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. The main card streams on DAZN following prelims on MMA Junkie.

Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (9-0 MMA, 8-0 BMMA)

Staple info:

Height: 5’4″ Age: 29 Weight: 125 lbs. Reach: 66″
Last fight: Submission win over Valerie Letourneau (Dec. 15, 2018)
Camp: Team Hurricane Awesome (San Diego, CA)
Stance/striking style: Orthodox/kickboxing
Risk management: Good

Supplemental info:

+ Bellator flyweight champion

+ EBI women’s flyweight title

+ 1 KO victory

+ 6 submission wins

+ 3 first-round finishes

+ Consistent pace and pressure

+ Steadily developing striking game

^ Shows fight-to-fight improvements

+ Strong inside the clinch

^ Knees, elbows, takedowns

+ Serviceable wrestling ability

+ Solid submission grappler

Veta Arteaga (5-2 MMA, 4-2 BMMA)

Staple info:

Height: 5’4″ Age: 31 Weight: 125 lbs. Reach: 64″
Last fight: Submission win over Denise Khielholtz(Sept. 21, 2018)
Camp: Combat Fitness (Idaho)
Stance/striking style: Orthodox/kickboxing
Risk management: Fair

Supplemental info:

+ Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt

+ 1 KO victory

+ 1 submission win

+ Has only lost by split decision

+ Deceptively heavy hands

+ Improved boxing technique

+ Relentless pace and pressure

^ Gets better as fight goes on

+ Strong inside the clinch

^ Favors takedowns from the fence

+ Solid transitional grappler

^ Busy ground striker

Point of interest: Controlling the exchanges

The co-main event for Bellator 220 features a fun flyweight matchup that might straddle the line between a brawl and a tactical fight.

The challenger, Veta Arteaga, is no stranger when it comes to brawling but quietly offers more than meets the eye.

Although she is known for coming forward, Arteaga does well when waiting out her opponents strikes so that she can counter by following her counterparts strike retractions to get on the inside. Staying low and loaded on the feet, the 31-year-old can unleash jabs, hooks and crosses with conviction, almost resembling an early Gilbert Melendez when in motion.

Nevertheless, Arteaga is not beyond being caught stagnant at range or when she rushes in, which makes me curious about how the champion will go about containing the exchanges.

Enter Illima-Lei Macfarlane.

Initially starting off her career a bit raw in the standing department, Macfarlane has made legitimate strides to her game in recent fights. The Hawaiian champ still shows patience to play on the outside or the ability to pressure her way forward, but she does so in a much more efficient manner than before.

Utilizing a steady dose of fakes and feints, Macfarlane now throws her punches straighter and with more purpose, smartly variating between simple combinations to maximize her effectiveness. The 29-year-old also has displayed upgraded head movement, rolling her head offline when committing to her crosses – something that will come in handy given the palpable power coming back her way.

Still, if Macfarlane can’t get or maintain a hold on the exchanges, then Arteaga’s aggressive assaults could start to build in momentum, changing the temperature of this fight.

Next point of interest: Swimming with sharks

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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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