Douglas Lima has seen Rory MacDonald fail to make the final bell before in his MMA career, and he believes he has what it takes to join the elite company that has finished “The Red King” inside the cage.
Lima will defend his welterweight crown against MacDonald in the main event of Bellator’s Jan. 20 card at the Forum in Los Angeles. The card will air on the Paramount Network – formerly known as Spike – at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT.
Of all the new talent to have signed with Bellator during the Scott Coker regime, MacDonald is perhaps the promotion’s most prized free agent acquisition. A former UFC title challenger, the Tristar Gym export owns victories over the likes of Tyron Woodley, Demian Maia, B.J. Penn, Nate Diaz and Jake Ellenberger, to name a few. His championship loss to Robbie Lawler at UFC 189 is regarded as one of the best fights in the history of the Las Vegas-based organization.
Lima, who is coming off a decision win over Lorenz Larkin, another former UFC talent, takes pride in beating opponents from the sport’s largest MMA promotion.
“I’ve been in Bellator for a long time. At the end of the day it’s just a fight. I don’t care what he’s done. I don’t care where he’s been. He’s coming there to fight me. That’s what the important thing is for me,” Lima said on the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show. “I’m going to finish this guy; I’m going to knock him out. That’s my goal for this fight. I’m going to put him away and show everybody that I’m here for a reason, that I’m champion for a reason. It doesn’t matter who it is. I don’t care what he’s done in the past. He’s gonna face me and he’s going down.”
Thus far, only Lawler in the aforementioned title bout at UFC 189 and Carlos Condit in the waning seconds at UFC 115 have been able to stop MacDonald before the final horn. Lima is confident he can become the third man to accomplish the feat.
“He’s a fighter, and like me he’s got a jaw. He’s got a jaw that hasn’t been touched like me,” Lima said. “Of course he’s durable. Condit finished him, Lawler finished him. If those guys can finish him, why can’t I? I believe in myself. I believe in my potential. I know what I can do, I know how hard I hit. I’m going to put this guy away, I’m telling you.
“I’m gonna find that jaw. Everybody’s got that point where you’re gonna turn off. I’m gonna find it, and I’m gonna hit him so hard and put him away.”
MacDonald made his promotional debut at Bellator 179, where he overwhelmed Paul Daley en route to a second-round submission victory on May 19. Lima initially expected that MacDonald would be granted an immediate title shot upon signing with Bellator. However, he recognizes that MacDonald earning that No. 1 contender spot with a dominant victory can only serve to further interest in their upcoming bout.
“I knew I was gonna fight him ever since he signed. I thought I was gonna fight him in his first fight. Good thing that I didn’t because it was good for him to get a win before,” Lima said. “It just shows how good this welterweight division is. It’s stacked. I’m sitting here on top and I’m happy to take on a guy like that. I know he’s tough. I’ve been watching him for a while.”
While it might not have the star value of some of Bellator’s bookings, Lima still believes his matchup with MacDonald is the biggest fight in promotion history. He even compares it to the Sept. 16 boxing match between Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin, calling it “two guys in their prime going at it.” According to Lima, the winner of the bout should be afforded a Top 3 spot in the world, if not higher.
“I would say Top 2, Top 3, maybe even (No. 1),” Lima said. “Rory has a win over Woodley, and Woodley’s standing at the top right now. “…He’s [MacDonald] still ranked in the top, and the winner of this fight should take that place. Either No. 1, No. 2. He’s top of the division. He’s been around. Fought good guys. I’m just here to beat him. When I beat him, I’m gonna be sitting on top. I hope they consider that.”