Douglas Lima on Ben Askren: “I Don’t Care If He’s The Champ. I Don’t Think I’m The Underdog”
By Kelsey Mowatt
If some fans didn’t take notice of Douglas Lima’s Bellator arrival last fall, after blasting his way through the competition to win the promotion’s welterweight tourney, they should be more than aware of the rising fighter now. Although Lima’s run helped the 24 year-old earn some much deserved fanfare, whether he can defeat another of the sport’s top welterweight prospects in Bellator champ Ben Askren, remains to be seen.
“I don’t feel like I’m an underdog in this fight, and I’m sure there’s a lot of people who feel that way as well,” said Lima (21-4), who as a result of knocking out UFC vet Ben Saunders in the tourney finals last November, will fight Askren (9-0) on April 6th. “I think there’s a lot of people behind me on this one, and I don’t care if he’s the champ, or if he’s a good wrestler; I don’t think I’m the underdog. I’m ready for him.”
While Lima has staked his claim in the welterweight division due to his accomplishments in Bellator and the Maximum Fighting Championship prior, Askren has also lived up to the hype that accompanied his transition into MMA. The former Olympian and All American wrestler has won nine straight fights since turning pro, and Askren’s world class grappling skills have been an integral part of his success.
“I know how good his wrestling is, and of course I’m working really hard on it,” Lima noted. “If I can stop him then of course that would be really good, but I’m sure, especially if we go five rounds, at some point I’m going to be taken down. The guy is an Olympic wrestler. It’s no secret what his game plan is, I know he’s going to do it.”
As a result of Askren’s pronounced wrestling and jiu-jitsu abilities, Lima’s title aspirations could very well hinge on his own ground skills.
“If people just watch my fights in Bellator they haven’t really seen the jiu-jitsu part of my game,” said the ATT Atlanta fighter, who during his tenure with the MFC submitted the likes of Jesse Juarez and Ryan Ford. “This is an opportunity to show them as I’m sure this fight will go to the ground a lot more than the last few fights.”
“I’m not just a one dimensional fighter,” Lima added. “In this fight I’m going to use my jiu-jitsu a lot and I’ve been working on it very hard.”
Of course, while Lima is quick to relay that he possesses a well rounded skill set, Askren continues to improve his stand-up through the guidance of renowned striking coach Duke Roufus.
“I’m not going to underestimate his striking,” said Lima about Askren, who is coming off a tightly contested split decision win over Jay Hieron in October. “Roufus is a great striking coach so I’m sure that his striking is getting better…I’m sure he’s going to try and trade a little bit, especially if he can’t get me down, he’s going to have to rely on his strikes. He’s not just going to run away from me.”
“I think he’s working hard with it and he’s probably gotten a lot better, but regardless, I’m going to be ready for him.”