Despite being a two-time Bellator welterweight champion, Douglas Lima doesn’t feel as though he gets the recognition he deserves.
That could all change very soon as the California-based promotion continues to stockpile talent at 170 pounds. Before 2017 is through, Lima, who checks in at No. 10 on Sherdog.com’s welterweight rankings, could have a chance to face two of Bellator’s most prominent free-agent acquisitions.
“I think we’re better than any division up there. We’re stacked man. There’s a lot of good, tough fights there. I’m happy this free agency is happening,” Lima recently told Sherdog.com. “All the good guys coming over. It’s what I was missing in my career. I can finally get those big wins and get people talking about me. I’ve been at this for a long time, and a lot of people don’t know who I am. They’re about to find out now.”
First, Lima will defend his title against former UFC and Strikeforce talent Lorenz Larkin in a featured bout on the Bellator NYC “Sonnen vs. Silva” pay-per-view card on Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York. Larkin has been on a tear since dropping from middleweight to 170 pounds, winning four of his last five UFC appearances before parting ways with the promotion. That streak includes triumphs over Neil Magny, Jorge Masvidal and Santiago Ponzinibbio.
On a card that includes big-name veterans such as Chael Sonnen, Wanderlei Silva, Fedor Emelianenko and Matt Mitrione as well as lightweight champion Michael Chandler, Lima hasn’t been shy about proclaiming his showdown with Larkin to be the event’s featured attraction.
“We’re both young; we’re both in our primes. The style of fighting that we bring, that’s what the fans love,” Lima said. “Both of us are coming off big wins, great finishers. It has everything to be the best fight on that card. I think we’re evenly matched, skill-wise as well. We’re definitely going to steal the show. I can’t wait to compete against him.”
Waiting in the wings for the winner of Lima-Larkin is newly-minted No. 1 contender Rory MacDonald, who overwhelmed noted knockout artist Paul Daley en route to a second-round submission triumph in his promotional debut at Bellator 179 on May 19. The Tristar Gym export nearly reached the precipice of the UFC’s welterweight division, as he came up just short against then champion Robbie Lawler in a “Fight of the Year” candidate in 2015. MacDonald absorbed serious damage in that bout, most notably a shattered nose, which was re-injured in his final UFC bout: a decision loss to Stephen Thompson in June 2016.
“The Red King” signed with Bellator shortly thereafter, but his debut was delayed as he waited for his nose to fully heal. Now, it appears that MacDonald is back at 100 percent. Count Lima among those who was impressed with his performance against Daley.
“I liked it a lot. It looked good: hurt him in the standup, took him down, got the finish real quick. That’s what I was hoping that he’ll come back the same way he used to be before his injuries with his nose. I’m glad he’s back healthy and at 100 percent because after Larkin that’s the fight I want right there,” Lima said. “I’m looking forward to that. Of course I’ve got a big test ahead of me. I’ve got to finish the year with a win over Larkin and MacDonald.”
If all goes as planned, there is little question that Lima will be universally recognized as one of the top welterweights in the world by the conclusion of 2017.
“Everything is in front of me. It’s like a plate of food in front of me. All I’ve got to do is eat,” Lima said. “This could be the best year of my career. I’ve just got to beat these two guys. If I want the recognition and I want to establish my name out there to prove to everybody where I belong I’ve got to beat these two guys, starting with Larkin, of course….That’s my goal for this year: these two wins.”