Former Tourney Winner Douglas Lima on Latest Bellator Competition: “I Don’t Think I’m The Favorite”
By Kelsey Mowatt
Although Douglas Lima entered Bellator in 2011 armed with an impressive record that included a Maximum Fighting Championship title, few observers likely picked the American Top Team Atlanta fighter to win the welterweight tournament. Now that the 25 year-old has added a tourney championship to his resume and scored a win over UFC vet Ben Saunders, however, Lima is one of the favorites to win the promotion’s latest competition. The fighter’s recent quarterfinal and stoppage win over Michail Tsarev, of course, probably didn’t change many people’s minds.
“It actually does make me really happy that people think I’m the favorite,” Lima said on Full Contact Fighter Radio recently, while discussing his recent successes and the fact he has shed his underdog status. “It doesn’t bother me at all. I don’t think I’m the favorite. The way I think is that on any given moment anybody can beat anybody, so, I never look at myself like that.”
The only man to defeat Lima since 2009, and in his last ten fights, is Bellator Welterweight Champion Ben Askren, who worked his way to a unanimous decision win over the well documented finisher last April.
“It’s awesome that the fans, the people think I’m the favorite to win, but in my head I’m not,” said the humble Lima. “I’m going to train extra hard to not disappoint the guys who really believe that I can win the whole thing. I believe I can win but not if I don’t put the work in….it just motivates me even more.”
After stopping Jacob Ortiz in a catchweight bout at 180 pounds last November, Lima took on the aforementioned Michail Tsarev in the tourney’s opening round on January 24th. Lima was able to add yet another TKO victory to his record, and appeared to emerge from the relatively brief bout unscathed and uninjured, which is extremely important in any Bellator tournament.
“The main thing is that I came out of it with no injuries,” said Lima about the bout, which came to a halt at the 1:44 mark of the second round. “With the tournament format, the way the tournament goes, that’s the thing you have to worry about the most; coming out of it with no injuries. So I’m just glad it went that way.”
“I was pretty happy with my performance; I thought I should have been more aggressive,” added Lima (23-5). “But overall it was good.”
The deciding factor in the bout was the leg kicks that Lima was able to land repeatedly, which after battering and hobbling Tsarev, forced the referee to intervene in round two.
“Yes it was,” said Lima, when asked whether leg kicks were part of his game-plan heading into the quarterfinal bout. “Leg kicks, we actually talked a lot about that for this training camp. It’s just the way he fights; he backs out a lot with his striking. He kind of leaves the leg open so it was something we were working out a lot for this fight…so the gameplan worked.”
“I think it was the middle of the first round; I landed one and he paused a little bit,” added Lima. “From that point I knew the kicks were getting to him. After I landed that last one in the first, he fell and was limping to his corner, I knew he was done from there. It was just a matter of time. He seemed really badly injured. Yeah I knew had him after the first round with the kicks.”
Recently it was confirmed that Brent Weedman, who defeated Marius Zaromskis in the quarterfinals, will no longer fight Lima in the semifinals due to injury. Bellator has announced that the veteran Bryan Baker will take his place on February 21st.
In the other bracket, Raul Amaya will battle the aforementioned Saunders, who defeated Amaya by unanimous decision last May.
“He also looked really good,” Lima said on FCF Radio, while discussing Saunders and his UD, quarterfinal win over Koffi Adzitso. “I think he controlled the whole fight, but I don’t think his opponent had too much for him. He looked really good; his ground, still very aggressive from the back, he’s good submissions and striking. It’s a rematch; he’s going to fight Raul Amaya again. So just looking forward to seeing who is going to win but I can’t really think about that right now. I have a tough challenge ahead of me.”