Douglas Lima always had the look of a champion. Now, only one man stands between him and the gold he has long sought.
On a career-best nine-fight winning streak, Lima will challenge undefeated Bellator Fighting Championships welterweight kingpin Ben Askren for his 170-pound title in the Bellator 64 main event on Friday at Caesars in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. The 24-year-old American Top Team Atlanta representative has already envisioned how the scheduled five-round scrap will play out.
“I have thought about this fight a million times, over and over in my head,” Lima told Sherdog.com. “I think about everything. I think about me stopping his takedown and landing a big right hand and knocking him out. I think about me catching him with a head kick or submitting him. I just keep seeing myself getting the win. It doesn’t really matter how I win this fight as long as I get that belt wrapped around my waist when it’s all said and done.”
The headliner pits a challenger with frightening knockout power against a divisional titleholder with a world-class wrestling pedigree. Askren was a four-time NCAA All-American wrestler and two-time national champion at the University of Missouri before qualifying to compete in the 2008 Summer Olympics in China.
“I think Ben is a great competitor,” Lima said. “The guy is tough, and he has an awesome wrestling background. He is an Olympic wrestler. He also has really good jiu-jitsu, and his striking is coming along really good. I expect a really tough fight from him. I’ve been training really hard for this fight with Ben, so I’m definitely coming to get that belt.
“I have fought some tough wrestlers before, so I pretty much know what to expect from him,” he added. “Of course, those guys had a different style of wrestling than he does, but I feel like I’m ready for the challenge he’s going to bring. He’s a tough opponent for me, but I’m a tough opponent for him. I’m improving every day. I’m improving my striking, my jiu-jitsu, my wrestling -- I’m improving everything. This is definitely going to be a tough fight for both of us.”
Askren has spent countless hours working on his standup game under four-time world kickboxing champion Duke Roufus at the Roufusport gym in Milwaukee. Still, Lima (21-4, 3-0 BFC) expects a steady diet of single- and double-leg takedown attempts, and he believes he has the ammunition he needs to answer them.
“I don’t think there’s anything secret in this fight,” he said. “I’m coming out there to knock him out, and he’s coming out there to take me down. At the same time, I definitely feel like I can finish him if the fight goes to the ground. Whether I’m on top or on bottom, I’ve been doing jiu-jitsu for a long time and I feel like I have a lot of ways I can win this fight.
“I can win this fight on the ground and I can win this fight standing up, where Ben only has one way he can win,” Lima added. “I’m going to be comfortable everywhere in this fight.”
Askren (9-0, 6-0 BFC) has been openly complimentary of Lima’s punching power, which was on full display in the Bellator Season 5 welterweight tournament. There, he flattened Chris Lozano and Ben Saunders en route to winning the eight-man draw. It was not an aberration. Lima has secured more than half (11) of his 21 professional victories by knockout or technical knockout.
“I know I have enough power in my hands to where if I hit Ben I’m going to hurt him, not just with my hands but with my knees, my elbows, my kicks -- with everything,” Lima said. “I feel like I have enough power to knock out anyone in my weight class. I just have to connect with the right shot.
“I’m going to be looking for the finish in this fight with Ben, no matter what,” he added. “If I see an opening, I’m going to go for it. If I see something, I’m not going to care if I get taken down. I’m going to go for the knockout. I’m going to go for the submission. I’m going to do whatever I have to do to win this fight.”
Lima has focused his motivation.
“Becoming the Bellator welterweight world champion is my only goal in life right now,” he said. “I’ve been training and fighting for so long, and my ultimate goal has always been to become a world champion. That’s why I’m here. That’s what I fight for. This is all I’m ever thinking about. I’ve been training so hard for this moment. I won’t be denied. I just can’t wait to have that belt around my waist.
“In this fight with Ben, I’m ready to fight all five rounds if I have to,” Lima added. “I’m going to come hard, and I’m going to come ready. He’s going to be in for a real fight. I’m going to bring it to him. I’m coming into that cage to take that belt from him.”