After suffering only the second loss of his career in January of last year to then Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler, Rick Hawn rebounded with four straight victories, culminating in winning the promotion’s Season 9 welterweight tournament.
Looking back on the year, Hawn admits it was a bit of a grind, but it was worth it to get to where he is right now.
“I had five fights last year and that was kind of pushing it a little in terms of your body and stuff, but with the tournament it was a great opportunity and I’m happy to have made the most of it,” Hawn told MMAWeekly.com.
“Obviously, losing a title fight last time (to Michael Chandler) was a learning experience, but I keep going the same way I always have, keep grinding away and trying to improve in all aspects of my game.”
Most specifically, Hawn has seen his stand-up grow quite a bit and intends to feature it more from here on out.
“I’ve seen improvement in my striking from last January (when I fought Chandler) to April from when I fought Karo (Parisyan) to September when I fought my first tournament fight (against Herman Terrado),” he said.
“I’m happy to see improvement in my sparring and stuff and I’m looking to showcase that in my next fight.”
“Obviously it’s going to be a tough fight,” said Hawn. “Douglas is a very explosive and very strong fighter, but I am as well, so it’s a great match-up.
“I think it’s just going to be a fast-paced fight and whoever can dodge the bullet so to speak is going to be the key. We’ve got to be aware of each other’s strengths and just go from there.”
Hawn feels he’ll be quicker than his larger opponent and will use Lima’s size against him as the fight progresses.
“He has a history of kind of fading round per round,” said Hawn of Lima. “Any time you have a big opponent with a lot of muscle they’re going to get tired as the rounds go on.
“It’s a five-round fight, so I’ve got a lot to time to work on him, but at the same time, he’s always dangerous. So I’ve got to be cautious and feel him out and see where he’s at. Regardless of that, I’m going to be faster than he is, even when he’s fresh.”
For Hawn, a title win this Friday will not only redeem him for his last title fight loss, but will open the next chapter in his career. Just don’t expect him to get overwhelmed at the thought of all of it.
“It’s a big deal and it’s important to me, but at the end of the day I’ve got to go out there with the mentality that it’s just another fight and I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do,” he concluded.