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Emily Ducote: ‘Ilima-Lei Macfarlane is my Biggest Challenge’

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Emily Ducote

When Emily Ducote made her Bellator debut in July, little was expected from those outside of her camp. Ducote was scheduled to fight highly-touted, and heavily promoted, Brazilian prospect Bruna Vargas and went in as a significant underdog.

In the sport of opportunity, Ducote grabbed hers with both hands, literally. Ducote dropped Vargas with a big overhand right in the second round, before effortlessly taking the Brazilian’s back and forcing her to tap with a rear-naked choke.

It was a performance that embedded Ducote in MMA’s developing 125 pound landscape, but she was under no illusions as to what was expected of her that night in Mulvane, Kansas.

“Me and my team knew we were being “bought in” moreso.” said Ducote regarding the fight with Vargas.

“She had a lot of attention and we just knew we were not being counted on real well. So me and the team went hard and it was really great to get the win in that kinda fashion and sign with Bellator. We knew we had to do something big. We wanted that contract.”

Ducote like many of the other flyweight prospects appearing on Bellator shows this year was originally only bought in for one fight. Submitting Vargas earned the American Top Team OKC fighter another shot in the Bellator cage, against Kenya Miranda in September.

Another Brazilian opponent, another impressive submission. This time it was the arm rather than the airway that was attacked as Ducote won by second round armbar. That cemented Ducote’s place as one of the standout performers in the young history of Bellator’s flyweight division.

Next up it’s Emily Ducote vs. Ilima-Lei Macfarlane on December 3 in Thackerville, Oklahoma. Bellator are running two events that weekend, and performing as part of their big double-header against Macfarlane, in front of a home State crowd brings pressure along with it. Ducote accepts that this is the biggest fight of her career to date.

“It’s a big fight. She’s been doing really well in Bellator. I feel like it’s a pretty big matchup in the division”, said Ducote when asked about the magnitude of the upcoming bout.

“As far as my training camp, it’s been a little longer than my past few which is really nice. Just a little more extra time to train and prepare, but nothing crazy we’re gonna change. We’re just gonna go in and hopefully improve all aspects of the game, but not change too much for it.”

No need to fix something that isn’t broken, and with four wins already under her belt in 2016, Ducote is on track to complete a stellar year with a win against Macfarlane.

That is a task easier said than done, and Ducote is under no illusions as to the tests posed by her opponent on December 3. Ducote is expecting a fight that provides the fans with a little bit of everything.

“She definitely is my biggest challenge. She’s a lot more aggressive; She’s got a lot more experience in the cage; She’s well rounded.” said Ducote, ever respectful of her opponent’s abilities.

“I wouldn’t say she’s got just striking or just grappling, so I think she’s gonna come in real aggressive like she does and put a lot of pressure. I think she’s gonna try and get me to the ground, but I think she’d be happy standing. She’s not just a grappler. It’s gonna be a well rounded match.”

With the division in its Bellator infancy, there is no flyweight title to fight for. If there was, the winner of Ducote’s fight with Macfarlane would be right in line to challenge for it.

With so many great prospects already signed, and more experienced fighters like Sarah d’Alelio and Colleen Schneider fighting in the Bellator cage, it seems a case of when, rather than if, Bellator throw a 125 pound title into the mix. Ducote wants to put herself at the top of the list when Bellator are deciding who to book for a title fight in 2017.

“I don’t know if they signed Sarah (d’Alelio), but I know she just fought, and then Colleen (Schneider), so they’re both really experienced fighters. Those two are gonna be very tough and they’re gonna be great for the division because they have a lot of experience and their fights are really impressive. So I think that signing them and just building it even bigger, I just think that makes the title even more possible because they’re bringing in all these great people to fight for it.”

Ducote fully expects the flyweight expansion to continue,

“They’re really pushing for it to grow. I think that they’ve been working on it, because before I even signed with them and I knew I was gonna fight for them, I don’t remember there being that many fighters in there. I think that they’re putting all these fights in the cards, almost every card has a 125lb fight and I think they’re really scouting and signing off some impressive girls. It’s gonna be a big division.”

Five wins in a calender year, especially with three of them inside the Bellator cage, would be enough to catapult any fighter to the top of the 125 pound division. That is what Emily Ducote will be aiming to achieve against Ilima-Lei Macfarlane on December 3. While Bellator have not spoken to her about when a title will be introduced, Ducote would be hard to overlook with a win over Macfarlane added to an already impressive Bellator resume.

“No, I haven’t heard anything about it. I only personally thought that there is gonna be a title pretty soon, early next year. And I hope that this fight puts my name on the list to be considered for that kinda fight.”

Ducote is stepping into the Bellator cage as the underdog against a fighter who has been more heavily promoted. She does so in a prominent position on the Spike TV main card, with a big opportunity on the line for the winner.

If that seems familiar, it should, as it is the same position Ducote found herself in when she made her Bellator debut against Bruna Vargas. That pressure spurred her on to make a major statement. Don’t bet against her making another on December 3.

Bellator 167 takes place December 3 at the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma. The event is headlined by a lightweight rematch between Patricky “Pitbull” Freire and Derek Campos. The Emily Ducote vs. Ilima-Lei Macfarlane bout will be part of the main card which airs like on Spike TV.

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*Watch* Bellator 185 Weigh in: Live Stream, Results

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Watch the live weigh-ins for Bellator 185 here.

Gegard Mousasi takes on Alexander Slemenko live this Friday night October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville CT. This is the first appearance for Mousasi in the Bellator cage as he looks to secure a title shot with a win over the very tough former Bellator champion Slemenko. Joining these men of the main card will be a pair of welterweights as Neiman Gracie from the famous Gracie BJJ family takes on Zak Bucia in the co-main event.

Full Weigh-in Results: (Updated in real time)

Main Card:

Gegard Mousasi (185) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (186)
Neiman Gracie (170.5) vs. Zak Bucia (170)
Heather Hardy (126) vs. Kristina Williams (126)
Ryan Quinn (155.5) vs. Marcus Surin (155)
Ana Julaton (125.5) vs. Lisa Blaine (122)

Preliminary Card:

Jordan Young (200) vs. Alec Hooben (194)
Costello van Steenis (185) vs. Steve Skrzat (186)
Vinicius de Jesus (170) vs. Joaquin Buckley (171)
John Beneduce (154.5) vs. Dean Hancock (155)
Timothy Wheeler (144) vs. Pete Rogers (144)
Don Shainis (150) vs. Matthew Denning (149)
Frank Sforza (149) vs. Vovka Clay (150)
Kevin Carrier (156) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (153)
John Lopez (126) vs. Billy Giovanella (125)

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Bellator 185 Fight to Watch: Heather Hardy vs. Kristina Williams

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Heather Hardy will compete in MMA for the second time at Bellator 185 on Friday night, as she faces Kristina Williams in a strawweight contest. The fight takes place on the main card at the Mohican Sun Arena in Connecticut.

Potentially, what Bellator have in Heather ‘The Heat’ Hardy is a major draw that they can build their 125 pound division around. While relatively new to the organisation she is fast becoming one of the more popular names on the roster. Her career is in the early stages, but many have already started to draw comparisons with former boxer turned MMA star, Holly Holm. Holm’s UFC success partly inspired the native New Yorker to make the switch from boxing.

Hardy is already an established world champion in the land of the ‘sweet science’, holding a 21 fight undefeated professional record. She made her MMA debut in June this year with a victory over Alice Yauger, at Bellator 180. At 35, Hardy is a late starter in the sport, but proved at Madison Square Garden against the credible Yauger that she has a bright future.

Hardy’s first outing in the cage was disciplined and composed. Despite a slow start in round one, Hardy grew in confidence as the fight progressed and her cardio never faltered. She mixed in plenty of kicks that complimented her boxing and looked at ease in the clinch, even defending a couple of takedown attempts in the process.

Despite looking on course for a decision win, Hardy forced the TKO stoppage with just thirteen seconds remaining in round three. Even a large cut that required seven stitches from an accidental head clash could not deny her victory.

Hardy was fighting an experienced professional, competing for the tenth time in MMA, which makes the win over Yauger more impressive. However, her upcoming opponent Kristina Williams will be making her professional debut.

There is little known about Williams except that she is 3-0 at amateur level. One of those wins came by way of submission so there may well be a threat to Hardy if the fight goes to the ground. More importantly for Williams is how she copes on the big stage against a popular opponent, who is more familiar competing in high pressure combat situations. If Williams can produce an upset it will be a huge boost in her young career.

But in all honesty, this fight is about Hardy. It’s about getting the win and gaining valuable experience. The boxing career is on hold while MMA takes centre stage. Beating Williams will mean she likely continues fighting inside a cage rather than a boxing ring.

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Bellator 185- How to Watch, Times and Fight Card

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Bellator is once again heading to Mohegan Sun in Uncasville Connecticut, and this time they are bringing with them one of the most anticipated former UFC fighter turned Bellator stars’ debut. Gegard Mousasi will be making his first appearance in the Bellator cage against a former Bellator champion in Alexander Shlemenko. Although this event has lost some of its star power over the last several weeks, it is still stacked and you can bet that the main event will bring some fireworks.

Earlier in the month, it was announced that King Mo had suffered an injury that had forced him out of his co-main event fight with former middleweight champion Liam McGeary. Bellator worked quickly to secure a replacement opponent for McGeary in Bubba McDaniels. Unfortunately for McDaniels and the fans alike, McGeary had later suffered an injury of his own and the fight was removed from the card.

This left a spot open in the co-main event slot, which would be filled by a welterweight matchup between Brennan Ward and David Rickels. Just four days out from the fight, Bellator announced that Ward had also become injured and the fight has been removed from the card as well. The main card has been shuffled around and the welterweight bout between Neiman Gracie and Zak Bucia will now serve as the co-main event.

Main Card- Spike TV (US/Canada) Spike UK (UK)- 9 pm EDT, 6 pm PDT, 2 pm UK

  • Middleweight Main Event: Gegard Mousasi (42-6-2) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (56-9, 1 NC)
  • Welterweight Feature Bout: Neiman Gracie (6-0) vs. Zak Bucia (18-8)
  • Women’s Flyweight Feature Bout: Heather Hardy (1-0) vs. Kristina Williams (Debut)
  • Lightweight Feature Bout: Ryan Quinn (13-7) vs. Marcus Surin (4-0)
  • Women’s Flyweight Feature Bout: Ana Julaton (2-2) vs. Lisa Blaine (1-0)

Preliminary Card- Live Stream (MMA Latest New)- 7 pm EDT, 4 pm PDT, 12 pm UK

  • 195 lb. Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Jordan Young (6-0) vs. Alec Hooben (5-3)
  • Middleweight Preliminary Bout: Costello van Steenis (8-1) vs. Steve Skrzat (8-9)
  • Welterweight Preliminary Bout: Vinicius de Jesus (5-1) vs. Joaquin Buckley (7-1)
  • Lightweight Preliminary Bout: John Beneduce (2-1) vs. Dean Hancock (2-1)
  • Featherweight Preliminary Bout: Timothy Wheeler (1-4) vs. Pete Rogers (2-4)
  • 150 lb. Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Don Shainis (3-1) vs. Matthew Denning (5-6)
  • 150 lb. Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Frank Sforza (6-0) vs. Vovka Clay (3-2)
  • Lightweight Preliminary Bout: Kevin Carrier (Pro Debut) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (Pro Debut)
  • Flyweight Preliminary Bout: John Lopez (6-4) vs. Billy Giovanella (9-5)
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