When Douglas Lima first challenged for the Bellator welterweight championship in 2012, he was riding a multi-fight winning streak and was the perennial irresistible force headed toward the immovable object in then-champion Ben Askren.
Askren was able to pick up the win via unanimous decision, but fortunately with Bellator’s tournament system, Lima once again heads into another welterweight title shot on a multi-fight winning streak. Only this time things are different.
“(The loss to Askren) helped me out and made me a better fighter,” Lima told MMAWeekly.com. “I have four finishes after that and hope to keep that going.
“I did basically the same thing (in training) but added a lot more wrestling to it and it’s helped my game a lot more; my offense and my defense got a lot better. I do feel a lot more confident. I feel I’m getting better every day. I’m constantly learning new stuff. That’s the idea, you’ve got to learn to progress in this game.”
When Lima (25-5) does get his shot at the title again Friday night in Council Bluffs, Iowa, it won’t be against Askren, who has since moved on to ONE FC, but rather Rick Hawn (18-2).
When asked if he’s disappointed he won’t be facing Askren again, Lima replied, “Yes and no. I just want to fight for the belt. It doesn’t matter who it is.
“I know Ben was the champion and never lost, so people are going to talk about that, but at the same time, I just fight who they put in front of me. It wasn’t my idea for him to leave, so I’ve got nothing to do with it. I’m just here to fight for the belt.”
When it comes to facing Hawn, Lima feels this fight could very well produce a finish, unlike his previous Bellator title fight.
“He’s got some quick hands, good takedown defense and everything, but I’m prepared and ready for that,” said Lima of Hawn. “Training camp was awesome heading into this fight and I’m ready for everything that he brings.
“Whether it’s standing or on the ground, it’s going to be an exciting, explosive fight.”
On the precipice of taking his second major MMA championship, Lima is putting everything he has into Friday night’s fight.
“It’s a big thing to be a champion for Bellator,” he said. “That’s been the ultimate goal for me: become a champion and stay there. At the same, I can’t get too excited, I have to tread carefully and do what I’ve been doing these past fights.
“I want to be a champion in this organization. This is what I came here for. I’m finally getting another opportunity (to fight for a title), so I’ve got to make sure I make the most of it.”
(Check out a behind-the-scenes look at Douglas Lima’s Road to the Belt)