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Ilima-Lei Macfarlane

Honolulu, Hawaii, United States

I was born and raised on the island of O’ahu before moving to the mainland to pursue a college education at San Diego State University. I received a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences, where I specialized in Cultural Anthropology and Indigenous issues. It was my dream to follow in my father’s footsteps and become a teacher and coach at my alma mater, Punahou.

However, my life took a detour when I decided to check out this little gym down the road from the restaurant I was waiting tables at. I never considered myself a fighter— I had never even been in a fight before, much less thrown a punch. I first stepped foot in the gym simply because I wanted to lose weight and had some spare time on my hands after finishing college. Never in a million years did I think fighting would be my full-time profession, but now I can’t imagine my life without it.

Sometimes I like to stand and bang. It's the Hawaiian in me.
One of my favorite moments of my career. My first win under the Bellator lights with Manolo running in the background like a Tahitian Prince made for a priceless photo and memory.
This was my first fight where I was able to have my head MMA coach, head striking and conditioning coach, and head jiu-jitsu coach all there at the same time. I wouldn't be able to do it without them!
As the baby of six kids my 'ohana (family), are the most important and influential people in my life. Even though they are all in Hawai'i, they have never missed a fight.
I always carry pieces of Hawai'i with me, wherever I am.
This is the goal.
I love to do playful, pinup photoshoots!
One of my favorite things about the weigh-ins is deciding what kind of bathing suit to wear. I might be a fighter, but I can be pretty girly about these kinds of things.
This moment changed my life, and validated myself as a fighter. I went into this fight as the underdog, against a very strong opponent in her hometown. Not only was this my first televised fight, but it was also on what could arguably be the biggest card Bellator MMA has ever put on. On top of all of that, my head MMA coach, Manolo Hernandez, was admitted to the hospital that same week as soon as we arrived to Saint Louis. This was the most nervous I had ever been going into a fight, and the most emotional I had ever been when the fight was stopped.
I've never considered myself an intense fighter. I normally always have a smile on my face, even in the stare downs.


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