Four months ago, Douglas Lima was barely a blip on the large-scale MMA radar.
Training at American Top Team in Atlanta, the 22-year-old Brazilian had amassed 15 wins against four losses, but his most well-known adversaries had all gotten the better of him. When he was tabbed by the MFC to welcome prodigal son Ryan Ford back to the organization, Lima looked like a talented submission fighter who would provide a challenge, but ultimately fall to the more athletic Edmonton native.
Looks can be deceiving.
Lima proved to be far more than originally anticipated, getting the better of Ford in a highly-entertaining first round. Less than minute into the second stanza, Lima showed off his jiu jitsu game, collecting Ford’s arm and forcing him to tap. The win earned Lima a place opposite Jesse Juarez in the main event of MFC 27 with the organization’s welterweight title going to the victor.
In the prelude to their fight, Juarez and his Team Bodyshop colleagues became regular guests on MMA websites, predicting a quick finish and deriding Lima’s abilities inside the ring, insulting jiu jitsu in the process. Lima chose not to respond in kind, choosing instead to let his performance speak for him.
After dropping the opening two rounds, Juarez was forced to eat his words, as Lima was able to secure a triangle / armbar combination midway through the third round to earn the win and the MFC welterweight title.
Though he chose to stay out of the verbal sparring session with Juarez prior to their encounter, Lima was more than happy to share his thoughts on the subject now that he has the MFC Welterweight title around his waist.
“It sucks for him – he was the guy talking all that stuff, calling me just a jiu jitsu guy and he’s got a broken arm and a broken leg,” Lima suggested with a laugh. “That’s a lesson learned for him – don’t talk a lot of smack before the fight, man. For me, it’s great; I let my fighting do the talking. I don’t like to talk smack about guys before the fight, especially disrespecting jiu jitsu.”
In addition to making Juarez eat his words, the victory also put “The Phenom” on the short list of the more promising welterweight prospects outside of the UFC. For now, however, he’s in no hurry to stop making the trip to Edmonton.
“I’ll leave that in the hands of my manager. We had some calls, but he’s the one that is taking care of it. I’ve got another fight with MFC, and they helped me get my name out there, so I’m just taking it a fight at a time,” offered Lima on the possibility of moving on to another organization. “Of course, every fighter wants to get there, to the big leagues, but I’m just going to wait; I’m still young, I’m fighting, and after I defend my title, we’ll see what happens.”
“Douglas has one more fight on his contract with MFC, and we’re pretty happy,” confirmed Brian Butler of SuckerPunch Entertainment, whose company counts Lima amongst its growing list of clients. “Douglas will defend his title there. He is on the UFC radar, but for now he is an MFC fighter.”
After fighting twice in two months, Lima is looking forward to a little downtime before stepping back into the ring with Canada’s premier MMA organization.
“I’m going to Brazil in December; I’m going to spend a month there with my parents and all my family, so hopefully I will be back around March,” Lima said. “I haven’t talked to them yet; right now I’m just going to relax and enjoy being champion. I’m going to keep training, just not as hard right now, but whenever the next fight comes up, I’ll be ready for it.”
Coming off a win of his own at MFC 27, a rematch with Ford will probably be suggested by the organization. The Edmonton native is the company’s biggest draw, and while his loss to Lima was free from controversy and definitely decisive, Ford bounced back with a second-round submission victory over Pete Spratt. If Lima had his way, he would prefer to hold off on the rematch for now.
“An immediate rematch like that isn’t really my thing,” admitted Lima. “I know everybody likes him there and he’s already fought for the title, but I would like somebody else instead. He will get his chance again, but I think he needs some more wins before we fight again. I want to fight different people, you know?”
One option that could produce fireworks for the MFC in 2011 is a meeting with Juarez’s Bodyshop Fitness teammate Jason High. “The Kansas City Bandit” has earned consecutive victories in Alberta-based organizations since being released from the UFC in March, including a second-round TKO win over Keto Allen for HeatXC, a smaller operation also owned and operated by the Pavelich family.
With the MFC welterweight title around his waist, Lima’s next bout will certainly be the most difficult test of his young career, with challengers lining up to knock the new champ from his throne. Whoever that may be, Lima will be ready and the MMA community will be watching.
This year, the 22-year-old Brazilian introduced himself to a wider audience and put his name on the UFC watch list. In 2011, Lima will look to defend his newly-earned title before taking the next step and achieve his ultimate goal of fighting on the biggest stage of them all.
If everything goes as planned, Vitor Belfort won’t be the only fighter in the UFC known as “The Phenom” for very much longer.