Ilima-Lei Macfarlane captured the Bellator MMA Women’s Flyweight Title with a fifth round submission win over Emily Ducote at Bellator 186.
The fighter isn’t content to just sit on her thrown as champion, but wants to use her new found fame and glory to help others.
That is why Macfarlane has started a scholarship program for indigenous girls in conjunction with the Native Like Water InterTribal Youth Program.
Macfarlane has dubbed the scholarship program to be The Ilimanator Inaugural Scholarship and she has already donated $2,000 to help the indigenous girls.
It was through Twitter that Macfarlane made the announcement about the program:
HERE IS MY BIG NEWS EVERYONE!!! But first a little backstory, cause you all I know I love to explain my life lol ———————————————————————— Last summer I was in Panama with @intertribalyouth when I got the call from @bellatormma that I would be fighting for the belt. After I got off the phone I turned to my mentor and ITY program director, Marc Chavez, and said that if I won I would use a portion of my winnings to create a scholarship fund for native youth. A few months later, I won the belt. It was without a doubt that the stars had aligned for me to not only find ITY, but to find my purpose in this world. ———————————————————————— Indigenous issues has always been something that I've held close to my heart, and I am so fortunate to have a platform such as MMA to work with these communities. My mission with this scholarship is to provide young native girls a fighting chance to not only succeed, but to LIVE. Statistically, indigenous women and girls face the highest rates of violence and have some of the highest numbers of missing and murdered peoples. I want to give young native girls hope that there is more to this life than the one they know. I want to give them the confidence to fight back, the opportunity to see outside of the rez or the islands, and the strength to realize their divine feminine power. ———————————————————————— I am humbly asking my family, friends, fans and fellow fighters to not just help in my campaign, but to find a cause that resonates with you. It might not be the same cause as myself, but as I quoted yesterday, "Only a life lived in the service to others is a life worth living." I am so honored, humbled and privileged to announce that the campaign for the "Ilimanator Scholarship" has officially commenced. We are challenging anyone to match my scholarship of $2,000, but every little contribution helps even if it is just a repost or share. If you'd like to learn more about this project or donate to the cause, the link is in my bio. Mahalo mahalo MAHALO for the love and kokua ----. #ilimanatorscholarship #fightingchance #nativelikewater #alohaainawarrior #indigenize
Outside of MMA, one thing that Macfarlane has done was to educate herself, as the champion graduated from San Diego State University as a cultural anthropology major. The Bellator title holder also holds a Master’s degree in liberal arts and science with a focus on indigenous issues.
Others from the MMA community have started noticing what Macfarlane has done and have started giving their own funds to the cause. Combate Americas fighter Kyra Batara has also decided to donate $2,000 from an upcoming fight purse to help the scholarship fund according to MMA Fighting.
Also according to MMA Fighting, $1,500 is the cost for room, board and travel for each girl who gets accepted for the program.
There is currently no date set yet for Macfarlane to make the first defense of her championship, but the fighter is keeping busy with her new scholarship program during that off time.
If you would like to donate to the fund, you can do so by clicking here.