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Bellator free fight: Juliana Velasquez dethrones Ilima-Lei Macfarlane at Bellator 254

There was a changing of the guard in the women’s flyweight division at Bellator 254, as Brazil’s Juliana Velasquez captured the 125-pound title and in the process ended the long reign of Ilima-Lei Macfarlane.

The two undefeated flyweights went head to head in the main event at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. in a fight that was sure to see one competitor leave with the first blemish on their previously perfect record, and there was genuine intrigue as the two well-matched 125-pounders faced off for the title on Dec. 10.

In a cagey open round, Velasquez (11-0 MMA, 6-0 BMMA) managed to keep the champion on the outside, using her superior reach to effectively test her fighting range through the opening five minutes using the occasional jab and push kick to prevent the champion from shooting in.

The action eventually went to the mat in the second round, when Velasquez smartly reversed a trip takedown by Macfarlane (11-1 MMA, 10-1 BMMA) to end up in top position. But the champion was able to nullify the challenger’s offense in another tight, tense round.

Velasquez found a home for her strikes through Round 3 as she connected with the champion as Macfarlane attempted to close the distance and initiate more grappling exchanges. The Brazilian looked more in control of the action, and even scored with a jumping knee as she enjoyed her best round of the fight to that point.

Perhaps knowing she needed something big, Macfarlane came storming back in Round 4 and, with two-minutes left in the round, scored the takedown she’d been chasing the whole fight. Once she established top position, she unleashed a barrage of ground and pound to the challenger’s head and bod, leaving her bloodied, but unbowed, as the pair returned to their corners for the final frame.

After an initial push from Macfarlane, it was Velasquez who held sway through the final five minutes to run out the unanimous decision victor with scores of 48-47, 49-46, 48-47 to capture the title and hand Macfarlane her first career defeat.

Relive the action as Velasquez became Bellator’s newest champion of 2020 via the video above.

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