I had the chance to speak with Bellator welterweight champion Douglas Lima ahead of title defense against Lorenz Larkin at Bellator NYC, live on Pay-Per-View.
Lima has been with Bellator since 2011 where he went on to win the Season 8 welterweight tournament. He has been a staple of the organization since then, losing only twice in 12 fights against Ben Askren and Andrey Koreshkov. In the last year, Bellator has gone from the still developing promotion into the clear second biggest organization for the sport in the U.S. Lima has been through it with the organization and he is relishing the opportunity to make a statement against the influx of new free agents.
“I’m going to stop them, you know. They can think whatever they want. I’m going to show you and them what we can do here. I’ve been here [in Bellator] for a long time and fighting good competition. I can’t wait to show the rest of the world what we can do. I love it. I love all these new free agents and tough guys that are coming over. These guys with big names, I can’t wait to compete and beat all of them.”
With such a stacked card on pay per view, there was a lot of surprise about the decision to match Lima with promotional newcomer Larkin. The general sentiment was that Lima would face either Michael Page or Rory MacDonald next. Both men would have been exciting stylistic match-ups for Lima and have more status in the division but circumstances did not allow either bout to come to pass.
It was all about timing. Everyone else was booked. At the time we signed, MacDonald was fighting Daley already and Michael Page was gonna compete on the same card. So everybody was booked. Then he [Larkin] signed and man, that’s a big name for a card like this. That’s the fight that we want. Not just a big name but an exciting fighter. He’s a great striker, he comes to finish like myself so I think it’s going to be an awesome fight for this show and that’s why they booked it.
The fight with Larkin on paper has all the ingredients to steal the show. Both he and Lima are powerful, explosive strikers with the ability to finish the fight quickly. Both men vary their strikes between punches and kicks and many fans are already pegging the bout to be the most exciting fight of the evening. Lima is certainly aware that he and “Da Monsoon” are likely to provide fireworks and he unapologetically believes he’ll win the fire fight with Larkin.
“I think we’re going to steal the show that night. I think this is definitely the most exciting fight on the card. Skillwise, we’re both in our prime so definitely that’s the fight to watch right there. I think I match-up well with him. He’s a good striker with good kicks and likes to come from different angles but I’ve fought and trained with guys like that before. I don’t see any problem. Of course it’s gonna be a dangerous fight but I’ve prepared myself very well and I’m ready for whatever he brings.”
Part of what makes the bout such an exciting contest is Lima’s story of having lost the welterweight title to Andrey Koreshkov and winning it back against him with a brutal knockout. At time when Lima had ascended to the top of the division after the departure of Ben Askren, the loss was a stunning one for most. Not yet thirty years old, however, Lima would go through the process of building himself back up and triumphantly regaining the world title.
“I definitely knew I could beat him the first time. I was badly, badly injured. Those around me knew I was injured and I was limping all fight week. So I pretty much fought him on one leg and still went five rounds. Of course I got beat up most of the fight but I still didn’t get finished and knew I could beat him if I was healthy. A lot of people did say I was losing the first two rounds, and I know in the second round he had the takedown and was on top for three minutes. But the rest of the fight I felt like I was the one doing damage. I was killing his leg and I could tell he was feeling it. He started limping and in the third round he came out wild and I caught him. I stayed composed. I was very confident that one moment in the fight I would catch him and it happened. I said the entire week of the fight that I was going to knock him out and get this belt back and I did. I trained very hard for the fight and I was very confident. I was prepared for everything and I got it done.”
The fight with Larkin is set to air on the pay-per-view portion of the event. Several of the new additions, such as Ryan Bader and Phil Davis, were relegated to the television portion. Despite the latter being more recognizable to casual fans, it appears that Bellator is rewarding the tenure and style of Lima by putting his match-up before the night’s co-headliners.
“I love it! It’s about the excitement. It’s about style. I think the fight between me and Lorenz is a pay-per-view fight. No disrespect to Bader and Phil Davis but it’s just the style of fighting. It can be a great fight, but it could also be boring for the public for five rounds. Me against Lorenz, I don’t think that’s gonna happen. I think it’s going to be exciting from the first minute to the last minute. We’re gonna stand and bang and Bellator understands that. They need a fight like this on the pay-per-view. I think that’s why they put me on the pay-per-view.”
With over 30 fights in his career, I asked “The Phenom” about what challenges he had next in his career. There are plenty of challenges left at 170 and new talent in the division as well. Names like MacDonald, Page, and others still wait in the wings and talk of super fights at middleweight. For now, “The Phenom” is setting his sights clearing his division before taking his turn in the spotlight.
“I do have a lot of fights but for me I look at it as I’m just getting started. I love that all the big names are coming over to Bellator and I want to beat all of them. I want to really make a statement and show the whole world what I can do and where I stand in this division. I’m just getting started. I want the big fights. Lorenz Larkin is a big fight. Rory MacDonald is a big fight. Maybe even move up to 185. I want to be on the big shows. There’s a lot of big fights for me at welterweight but I could move up to middleweight as well.”
Douglas “The Phenom” Lima defends his world welterweight title against Lorenz “Da Monsoon” Larkin at Bellator NYC on pay-per-view on August 26.