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Ilima MacFarlane welcomes future fight with Anastasia Yankova – but not for flyweight title


Undefeated prospect Ilima Macfarlane plans on capturing Bellator’s inaugural women’s flyweight title this year. She also wouldn’t mind facing fan-favorite Anastasia Yankova at some point, but absolutely not for that belt.

“No. 1, can she even make the weight?” Macfarlane asked MMAjunkie. “That would be the biggest issue. And then No. 2, I don’t think honestly she’s on the same level as me as a fighter. I really haven’t been impressed by any of her fights so far. I think she has a lot of growing to do as a fighter. I just think that, honestly, I would run through her.

“For a title fight, I think that there are better candidates and other girls in the division that deserve a shot before she does for a title fight. But with that being said, I would totally love to fight her, anyway, and I would be willing to make it a catchweight too. I just don’t think it should be for the belt.”

Anastasia Yankova

Yankova, a 26-year-old Russian fighter, has certainly received her fair share of promotional push since signing with Bellator. Macfarlane insisted she doesn’t take exception with the promotion’s effort, instead saying the company “is doing a really good job of putting more attention on women’s MMA and their fighters.”

But Macfarlane is frustrated with Yankova’s billing as a flyweight prospect, when all three of her Bellator appearances have been booked at 130 pounds – with her coming in at 133 pounds in her most recent appearance.

“I wasn’t bothered by the attention because she has a big fanbase, a big following, and it’s a business, so I wasn’t really bothered by it at all,” Macfarlane said. “But what really got to me was when she missed weight this last fight. I thought it was just a big slap in the face to the rest of the flyweight division – all the women who are making weight, who are cutting. Just the fact that this is her third fight that she got a catchweight, and all of us are trying to figure out what’s going on, like, ‘Why is Anastasia only fighting at 130?’ And then top it all off, she didn’t even make that weight.

“So I just felt that it was really disrespectful, and you know, if she can’t make 125, then don’t call herself a flyweight. Go up to bantamweight. It was more of that that kind of turned me off about her.”

Yankova (5-0 BMMA, 3-0 BMMA) picked up a win in her latest fight, which took place at Bellator 176. Macfarlane (5-0 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) returns to action tonight, when she takes on Jessica Middleton (2-0 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) in the Spike-broadcast co-main event of Bellator 178 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.

It’s a big opportunity for two young fighters early in their careers, and Macfarlane said she was pleased to receive the position on the card.

“I didn’t even know I was the co-main event until Bellator released it,” Macfarlane said. “It was cool. I was really stoked – and not just for myself. I was also really happy for Jessica. I think that it’s really cool that they’re giving us this opportunity.”

With a win, Macfarlane said she’d certainly be in a position to challenge for the promotion’s first women’s flyweight title. After all, it’s on her list of goals for 2017.

That said, she might be willing to take a temporary pause on that quest to take care of some other business.

“(Yankova) would probably be the first opponent – if we were ever to be matched up against each other – that would probably be the first one that I would actually talk (expletive) to,” Macfarlane said. “I’m not really a big fan. She just kind of rubs me the wrong way.”

For more on Bellator 178, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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