Douglas Lima made it clear he wants a chance to reclaim the prize that was once his.
The Atlanta-based American Top Team representative took care of business over three efficient rounds, as he captured a unanimous verdict from Paul Daley in the Bellator 158 main event on Saturday at the O2 Arena in London. Lima dropped “Semtex” with a counter left hand inside the first five minutes and outstruck him from there, improving to 9-2 under the Bellator MMA flag.
The figurative blood had not yet dried on the canvas before Lima turned his attention to the next target: Bellator welterweight champion Andrey Koreshkov. The once-beaten Koreshkov lifted the 170-pound title from Lima in a five-round unanimous decision at Bellator 140 in July 2015. They have established themselves as the top two welterweights in Bellator, setting the stage for a rematch and beyond.
In wake of Bellator 158, here are five matches that ought to be considered:
Douglas Lima vs. Andrey Koreshkov: Lima has rattled off six wins in seven appearances, the aforementioned loss to Koreshkov his only misstep. “The Phenom” was in prime form against Daley, as he stumped the British kickboxer with crisp counters, thudding leg kicks and tactical takedowns. Lima now owns victories over Daley, Ben Saunders (twice), former World Series of Fighting champion Steve Carl and onetime Olympian Rick Hawn. Koreshkov, 25, last fought at Bellator 153 on April 22, when he routed former World Extreme Cagefighting and Ultimate Fighting Championship titleholder Benson Henderson across five rounds.
Matt Mitrione vs. Sergei Kharitonov: Mitrione is batting 1.000 in his two Bellator appearances. “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 10 quarterfinalist moved to 2-0 inside the promotion with his second-round technical knockout against British strongman Oli Thompson in the co-main event. Mitrione, 38, parted ways with the UFC -- he had spent his entire career with the organization to that point -- following a technical knockout loss to Travis Browne in January. So far, he appears to like his new home. Kharitonov has won five fights in a row, all of them finishes, but the Pride Fighting Championships veteran withdrew from his scheduled Bellator debut in May due to illness.
Michael Page vs. Fernando Gonzalez: Page has all the signs of a talent around which Bellator can build. The undefeated Brit was again sensational, as he dispatched the well-traveled Evangelista Santos with a vicious flying knee in the second round of their welterweight showcase and added to an already-impressive highlight reel. Page, 29, has been criticized for his strength of schedule, or lack thereof, but no one can argue with the results. Through 11 pro bouts, he is 11-0 with 10 finishes. Gonzalez was Page’s original opponent for Bellator 158 before visa issues forced his exit. The 32-year-old Californian has pieced together a five-fight winning streak since arriving in Bellator two years ago.
Francis Carmont vs. Luiz Philipe Lins-Guilherme Viana winner: Tristar Gym’s Carmont took a significant experience advantage and ran with it, as he tapped promotional newcomer Lukasz Klinger with a brabo choke in a little less than four minutes. The submission was the Firas Zahabi-trained Frenchman’s first since he put away Karlos Vemola with a rear-naked choke at UFC on Fuel TV 4 in 2012. Carmont has compiled a 3-1 record in Bellator, emerging at the very least as a serviceable gatekeeper at 205 pounds. Nova Uniao’s Lins will meet Viana at Bellator 159 on July 22 in Mulvane, Kansas.
Paul Daley vs. Brennan Ward: Daley had hoped to secure an elusive title shot with a win over Lima but was instead sent back to the drawing board. Time and mileage may not be kind to “Semtex,” who turns 34 in February and already has 54 pro MMA bouts under his belt. The loss to Lima snapped Daley’s five-fight winning streak, his longest run of success since a six-fight tear between March 10, 2007 and July 12, 2008. The former Cage Rage champion will likely be given other chances to reach the Bellator mountaintop in the near future, but the window is closing. Ward has not competed since he submitted to a heel hook from “Cyborg” Santos 30 seconds into their Bellator 153 battle in April.