Douglas Lima is back, and the heavy-handed welterweight believes he is better than ever.
The 25-year-old “Phenom” will lock horns with Ben Saunders for the second time tonight when he meets “Killa B” in the Season 8 tournament finals at Bellator 100. The men was initially supposed to collide this past March, but the pairing was pushed back to July after Lima suffered a broken hand in his semifinal victory over Bryan Baker.
The July meeting was also not to be, however, as Lima suffered torn cartilage while rolling jiu-jitsu with a student in June.
“I was doing a clock choke,” Lima recently told Sherdog.com. “I circled around with the gi toward the head, and I just heard [my ribs] pop, like a two-by-four breaking. It was one of the loudest noises I’ve ever heard. I thought I really broke the rib. I couldn’t move after. It was a very annoying injury. Everything you do, it hurts -- to drive, to breathe, even. It took me a good five to six weeks to even start running again, so it was not a fun process. It was a very painful injury to deal with.”
Despite experiencing the inherent frustration of suffering such setbacks, Lima believes going seven months without a fight also carried with it some benefits. When he finally faces Saunders tonight at the Grand Canyon University Arena in Phoenix, Lima will do so 100 percent healthy.
“I hate injuries. At the same time, it was a good thing for my body,” Lima recently told Sherdog.com. “It healed up pretty good, so when I came back, I was fresh. I didn’t get too heavy, like I usually do when I’m not training, so everything came out for the best.”
In Saunders, Lima will face a familiar foe who also represents the vaunted American Top Team, though Lima trains in Atlanta while Saunders has long called the gym in Coconut Creek, Fla., his home. The men first clashed in the Season 5 finals back in 2011, with Lima scoring a second-round knockout after a methodical first frame ended with Saunders reversing a takedown attempt and landing in the mount.
“Honestly, I don’t really like how that fight was going and the pace that he was [setting],” said Lima. “It was slow, and very technical, but I want a more violent fight this time, so I think I’m going to be more aggressive. I am going to be looking for the finish a lot, so I’m going to be throwing a lot of power shots. Even if we go to the ground -- it doesn’t matter where it is -- I’m still going to be looking for the finish.”
Lima, who just became a father six weeks ago, said he hopes to bring the fight directly to Saunders, with a victory serving as the next step toward his ultimate goal of becoming the Bellator welterweight champion. Though Lima said that he holds no ill will toward Saunders, he will also have no issue trying to knock out his fellow ATT representative one more time. “Honestly, for me, it’s not that hard to fight somebody in a cage. If they are in there, they’re in front of my dreams. They’re trying to stop me from getting what I want,” said Lima. “Of course [Ben and I] are cool outside the cage. He’s a great guy, and we represent the same team, but when that door closes, we’re enemies.”