The two dangerous strikers were respectful of each other’s abilities in the opening round. They looked for openings and sought to figure out their range. Lima attacked Larkin’s lead leg and picked up the pace in the closing seconds.
The biggest moment in the bout came in the second round. Larkin pressured Lima and was caught with a left hook as he moved forward that dropped him. Lima followed Larkin to the canvas looking for a finish, but was unable to put Larkin away.
In the third frame, Lima continued to land leg kicks. Larkin increased his output, but Lima landed the cleaner strikes. Heading into the fourth round, Lima was in control of the fight.
The fourth round saw Larkin pick up the pace. Behind on the scorecards, he began pressuring the champion. He outworked Lima, but was unable to lands a fight changing blow. In the final round, Larkin fought with a sense of desperation. He went on the attack, but Lima stayed inches out of reach. After 25 minutes of fighting, Lima was scored the winner by unanimous decision.
“He’s a tough guys,” said Lima of Larkin following the fight. “It was an honor to share the cage with a guy like that. He’s just a tough guy.”
Sitting cageside inside Madison Square Garden was the top welterweight contender Rory MacDonald. MacDonald will face Lima next and Lima turned his attention toward the former UFC title challenger.
“Come get it,” Lima said. “I know he’s been through a lot of tough fights. Wait until he comes and faces me. He’ll see what a tough fight is.”