Douglas Lima will have the opportunity to become a two-division champion when he meets Gegard Mousasi for the vacant middleweight crown in the Bellator 250 headliner on Thursday evening.
Regardless of what happens in that bout, the promotion’s reigning 170-pound champion has no plans to permanently exit the division in which he made his name with Bellator.
“I’m not leaving the welterweight division. That’s my weight class. I think there’s a lot more fights for me to do there,” Lima said during a virtual media day for Bellator 250. “But let’s see how I feel Thursday night. Right now everything feels great, but I’m still the same weight that I am when I fight at 170. I usually walk around at 200 pounds … I want to fight in both divisions. My goal is to win this fight and defend both belts.”
Lima expects to have a better result than Rory MacDonald, who was throttled by Mousasi via second-round TKO in his attempt to become a two-division champ at Bellator 206 in 2018.
“That didn’t go too good for him. But I think I’m a different fighter, a little bit bigger than him as well,” Lima said. “I don’t know, Rory just wasn’t himself that night. Of course, Mousasi looked amazing — he did what he had to do. He hurt him early with those jabs. I think Rory just felt the weight, the power of him. I’m a different fighter than him, different styles. Definintely gonna be a different story with me.”
Mousasi was expected to be a long-reigning middleweight king in Bellator, but he was upset by Rafael Lovato Jr. at Bellator 223. However, a brain condition forced Lovato Jr. to relinquish the crown, giving Mousasi and Lima a chance to square off for the vacant title.
Dating back to 2016, the loss to Lovato Jr. is Mousasi’s only setback in his last 10 professional appearances. It’s a stretch that features victories over the likes of Thiago Santos, Vitor Belfort, Uriah Hall, Chris Weidman, Alexander Shlemenko and Lyoto Machia.
“Mousasi’s a complete fighter. He’s good everywhere, so we’ve just got to find the right timing, connect a good punch and be ready to fight five rounds. I know he’s good,” Lima said. “He’s probably gonna be a bit bigger than myself. The bigger the challenge, the bigger the reward. That’s what I’m coming into this fight thinking about. I know it’s a tough challenge, that’s why I wanted this type of fight.”
Lima says he has contemplated a move to 185 pounds for quite some time after a brief stint at the weight class earlier in his career. Making the welterweight limit has always been a challenge, but he reiterates that he has no plans on giving up the 170-pound belt.
“Definitely it will be harder to make welterweight, but that’s something that’s been hard my whole career,” he said. “There have been times when I thought, ‘I can’t do this. I don’t know if I’m gonna make weight this time.’ But I always do it. It’s part of the job … Give me eight weeks I can comfortably make 170 again, make 185 whenever I want to because it’s a lot easier.
“But first, I want to see how this feels at middleweight. I’m fighting one of the big guys at middleweight, a guy that’s fought higher weight classes before,” he continued. “This is a perfect fight for me to see where I stand as far as power when it comes to middleweight. Guys are definitely gonna be bigger and stronger. Middleweight is something I thought of doing for my whole career. The last time I did it was 10 years ago. I won three fights, I won a tournament.”
If he is successful again at middleweight, Lima believes he deserves serious consideration as one of the sport’s top pound-for-pound talents.
“I definitely want my name on the pound-for-pound list after this win. It’s a legacy fight; it’s a superfight,” Lima said. “Being a welterweight forever, I fought the who’s who — whoever came to Bellator I fought them. I got wins against good guys. But I’ve got to prove it Thursday night.
“Sometimes rankings don’t really matter, but it’s just good to see your name up there. I”ve been fighting for 17 years already. It’s been a while. It’s important that people recognize what you’re doing, but I’m not losing sleep over it.”
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