Before watching tonight’s card get the scoop on each bout by checking out our ‘Bellator Breakdown’!
Bellator 201 in Temecula, Calif., features three highly anticipated women’s contests. On the Prelims, Keri Melendez will make her sophomore MMA appearance when she takes on Tiani Valle. Later that night on the main card, Valerie Letourneau faces Kristina Williams in a bout that will likely determine the next flyweight title challenger. Finally, in the main event of the night, Ilima-Lei Macfarlane will attempt to defend her championship versus Colombian standout Alejandra Lara.
ilima-lei macfarlane (7-0) vs alejandra lara (7-1): and new or and still?
23-years-old Lara has a huge opportunity in front of her. At 7-1, she has a balanced record with three wins by KO/TKO, three wins by submission, and one win by decision. The only setback in her career was a decision loss to current LFA champ Sabina Mazo back in 2015. Lara does her best work on the ground– she stays calm in dangerous positions and does a great job of securing positions for herself where she can look for subs or pick her ground and pound. While Lara doesn’t tend to throw as much volume at range, she stands in a wide stance with her hands high and has often utilized an effective front teep kick that she’ll fire right down the middle. Macfarlane has also shown to do some of her best work on the mats– she is dangerous from bottom or top position and is relentless with submission attempts. Four of her seven victories come by way of submission– three of those being an armbar. Last time out, Ilima-Lei showed improvement in her striking. She was calm and active on the feet against Emily Ducote and set up her grappling by using her striking. There can be some fun grappling exchanges in this bout and the winner may be determined by the one who gets the best of the scrambles.
valerie letourneau (9-6) vs kristina williams (2-0): Seasoned veteran versus surging newcomer
In her MMA debut, Williams showed that she was the real deal. In both of her Bellator appearances versus Heather Hardy and Emily Ducote respectively, the “Warhorse” showed off some serious striking. She does a great job of mixing things up on the feet– throwing a variety of punch and kick combinations that keep her opponents guessing. Up close, Williams will fire off stiff knees and elbows, working effectively from clinch positions and utilizing her reach and height advantages. Not much has been seen of Williams on the ground, however, in her amateur appearances, she has shown solid submission defense and the ability to work off her back. No doubt Williams will be in for her toughest test to date in Valerie Letourneau. Originally slated to face Bruna Ellen at 201, “Trouble” says she was happy to take on whoever stepped up. Letourneau is tough, durable, and experienced. From the beginning of her career, she has faced a who’s who in WMMA. Valerie has a passion for striking and throws a lot of volume on the feet. She has an educated left hand and she sets up her kicks with her punches beautifully. Though she hasn’t won by submission in years, Letourneau has a somewhat underrated ground game– training with some of the best at American Top Team and The Gym Lombard in jiu-jitsu and wrestling. Both of these ladies are strong and talented strikers who enjoy a firefight– this has FOTN potential written all over it.
keri melendez (1-0) vs tiani valle (1-0): someone’s 0 has got to go
Both fighters are 1-0, leaving a lot of questions as to how this bout will go down. Though it is only her second MMA fight, Keri has Muay Thai and kickboxing experience. She stands in an orthodox stance and has shown solid striking defense. In her Bellator kickboxing career, she mixed up her attacks with a variety of punches and kicks. In her first pro fight, Melendez showed some serious power in her hands– knocking out Shiela Padilla with a right. 23-year-old Valle also only has one pro MMA fight to her name– a 2016 decision win. The Hawaiin strawweight fighter is primarily a boxer– using good footwork to get in and out of the pocket. According to Tapology, Valle is 8-2 in amateur bouts. She has trained alongside UFC strawweight Cortney Casey. Bellator doesn’t currently host a strawweight division or champion, perhaps the winner of this bout can spearhead the re-introduction of strawweights to Bellator MMA.
Which bout are you most looking forward to?