Douglas Lima has spent the largest part of his career with Bellator MMA as the best welterweight in the promotion but on Thursday he’ll face arguably the toughest challenge of his career when moving up to 185 pounds.
With the middleweight title currently vacant, Lima was offered the opportunity to move up a division where he’ll challenge former champion Gegard Mousasi at Bellator 250.
Lima is the second Bellator welterweight champion to attempt this feat after Rory MacDonald moved up to 185 pounds in 2018 where he was soundly defeated by Mousasi via second-round TKO. Heading into a similar situation, Lima knows he’s got his hands full with somebody as experienced as Mousasi but he also understands stylistically this is a much different battle than the one MacDonald had two years ago.
“That didn’t go too good for him,” Lima said about MacDonald’s attempt to become a two-division champion during Bellator 250 media day. “I think I’m a different fighter, a little bit bigger than him as well. I don’t know. Rory just wasn’t himself that night so I can’t really key in on that fight. Of course, Mousasi looked amazing. He did what he had to do. He hurt him early with those jabs and I think Rory just felt the weight, the power of him.
“But I feel pretty good. I’m a different fighter than him for sure different styles. It’s definitely going to be a different story with me. I feel really strong, ready to go. I feel ready to get this belt.”
Becoming a two-division champion in a major MMA promotion like Bellator or the UFC has only been attempted a handful of times with the list of those who accomplished the goal even shorter.
Lima views his upcoming fight against Mousasi as not only a chance to win a second Bellator title but an opportunity to cement himself in the record books. He also hopes after fighting for respect for years as one of the best welterweights across all MMA that winning the Bellator middleweight title would help him receive consideration as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport as well.
“It’s super important for me,” Lima explained. “I definitely want my name on the pound-for-pound list after this win. I even said that before. This is a legacy fight. It’s a super fight. Being at welterweight forever, I fought the who’s who, whoever came to Bellator I fought them. Got wins against good guys and definitely think I belong in the pound-for-pound list but I’ve got to prove it with this fight on Thursday night. It is important for me.
“Sometimes the rankings don’t really matter but it’s good to see. It’s good to see your name up there because the work that I’ve been doing the whole time. I’ve been fighting for 17 years I think. It’s been a while and it’s important when people recognized what you’re doing. But I’m not losing sleep over it. I know where I stand. I know I can beat any welterweight in the world, middleweight as well so I feel good. This win, this fight will definitely put me up there in the pound-for-pound list. It’s important.”
While his main focus for now is facing and defeating Mousasi on Thursday night, Lima isn’t abandoning his old weight class by any means.
He still plans on returning to defend the welterweight title in the future even if that means punishing his body a little bit more to make it down to 170 pounds after competing comfortably at middleweight.
“I’m not leaving the welterweight division,” Lima said. “That’s my weight class. I think there’s a lot more fights for me to do there but let’s see how I feel on 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. For middleweight, cut 15 pounds. Welterweight, suffer a little bit more but I can make the weight no problem.
“I want to fight in both divisions. I want to win this belt. My goal is to get this belt Thursday and defend both. Defend both belts, stay busy, get as many fights as I can. Enjoy my prime time.”
When he eventually returns to welterweight, Lima will certainly have challengers awaiting him after the title was last defended in October 2019.
One fighter who has been constantly calling for the fight has been Michael “Venom” Page, who fell to Lima during the Bellator Welterweight Grand Prix last year. On that night, Lima finished Page with a vicious second round knockout, which remains the only loss on his record.
Page has since rattled off four straight wins, although his level of competition has come under question as he’s continued to call for the rematch against Lima. It appears the reigning Bellator welterweight champion feels the same when he addressed Page on Tuesday.
“Fight contenders,” Lima said in response to Page’s callouts. “I’m a champion, I’m here to fight contenders. If he wants a shot at me, go fight guys that’s going to put you next in line for a title shot. He’s been good, he’s been winning his fights but I need to fight contenders. You can’t fight people that has less than five fights and then ask for a title fight. No disrespect to anybody. No disrespect to him as well but if you want to fight the champion, you’ve got to fight fights that get you there. It’s not just talk. You’ve got to fight contenders.
“That’s what I’ve been doing my whole career. Every time I lost a belt, I fought the No. 1 guy next in line for it. I had to go through a tournament to get my belt the last time around. You know what to do if you’re ready. If Bellator says you’re ready, I’m here. I’m here for whoever’s next but like I said, I’m a champion and I fight contenders.”