Newest addition to Bellator roster speaks out on career change
Earlier this week, welterweight prospect Douglas Lima announced he’d signed with Bellator, securing a place in their Season 5 welterweight tournament that begins in September.
In doing so, he left behind the Maximum Fighting Championship 170-pound title he’d won last November and defended just last month at MFC 29: Conquer. While MFC President Mark Pavelich has been critical of the move, Lima hopes the Edmonton-based promoter understands it’s nothing personal.
“It’s a little frustrating to me because I really like Mark and his family; they were really good to me, and I really feel bad that I had to leave. Like I told you, it’s business.
“I hope they can stay cool, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think he’s really pissed at me right now, but it’s something I had to do, man. MFC really took care of me, I’m really thankful to them. They really helped my career out, and it sucks that it didn’t work out.”
The talkative and talented Brazilian still has ties to Canadian’s leading MMA organization, as his younger brother Dhiego just signed a four-fight deal to remain in the MFC welterweight ranks. While he’d like to just slide the 170-pound title across the table, the elder Lima is confident that his little brother can earn the belt inside the ring while he tries to add another title to his collection elsewhere.
“He’s got a fight at MFC 30, he’s training really hard. Mark said to send the belt back as soon as possible; I’ll send it to him so my brother can take it. He’ll get that belt. He can have that one, I’m going after the Bellator belt. I’ll get it next year.”
Signing with Bellator was an opportunity that Lima simply could not pass up.
Despite holding the MFC welterweight title, the 23-year-old Brazilian exited his first title defence as a free agent; his knockout win over Terry Martin was the last on his contract and there was no championship clause in place to keep him in the fold.
As such, Lima and his management team at SuckerPunch Entertainment set out to find the best available deal, and found themselves signing with Bellator.
“It was better for my career at this point, financially and with everything else. They gave me a good offer. My manager and I decided that this was the right move, and there you go.
“That ($100,000 bonus) is a hard number to pass up, plus your pay on top of that. It’s a better deal, man; there is a lot of money on the line, better exposure. I had to do it, man.”
While it may sound like Lima is solely motivated by money, the reality of the situation is that fighting is his job. Instead of punching a clock, he punches other men in the face. Besides, Lima is taking care of more than just himself when he steps into the ring.
“I do this a lot for the sport, but the money is really important, especially nowadays; the economy is dead, I gotta help out my family. My mom and dad are in Brazil – I’m fighting for them. I’m always training hard, and this is an opportunity I’ve been waiting for.”
Over the last year, Lima has gone from a relative unknown to a highly regarded prospect. Though many will point to his current six-fight winning streak as the catalyst for his rise up the charts, Lima says the real turning point came following his second of back-to-back losses in June 2009.
“I think there has been big growth in the last two years. There was a point in my career when I lost two in a row; I was training, but I wasn’t training too hard. I had some personal problems; I didn’t have a driver’s licence, so getting to training was hard. It was bad. I lost two in a row, and I was mad, man. I stopped training for like six months until I got all my paperwork straight.
“When I started and I was back at it, I told myself it was time to change. I started to really get serious, I started training a lot more, and it did a lot for me. Everything got better; my jiu jitsu got better, my striking. I’ve won six in a row now, and I’m gonna keep coming. I just keep training harder. I’m a lot more responsible.”
Lima condensed his renewed focus down into a truth you don’t often here fighters openly discuss.
“You just gotta stop bullshitting yourself because you can really get hurt. If you go in there and you’re really not ready, it’s going to be a bad night, and I don’t ever want that to happen again. I want to go in there and win my fights.”
Not only did signing with Bellator provide the best financial opportunity for Lima to take care of himself and his family, but it may also give him the chance to get try an make up for one of the four bad nights he’s had in his young career.
“Avenging the losses is something all fighters want. Brent Weedman is a cool guy; I’ve talked to him a few times, but man, I’m looking forward to it.”
Weedman, a welterweight tournament semifinalist this season, defeated Lima back in May 2008. As you would imagine, the newest addition to the Bellator welterweight ranks hopes the two meet up again later this year.
“I hope it works out. If it does, good for me, man. You know, we’re fighters and it’s business. I looking forward for that opportunity, and hopefully it works out. He’s been doing really good lately, and I’m sure he’s going to get into that tournament.”
Regardless of Weedman’s participation, Lima is already counting down the days until the Season 5 tournament gets under way.
“I’m real excited, man. Sucks that it’s four months away, but I’m looking at it the right way. There is more time for me to train, get ready, work, work on my weaknesses, whatever my coaches say I need to work more. I just want to fight, man.”
As for predictions, the promising welterweight prospect knows he’s in for a challenge, but says a shot at the Bellator welterweight title will be his by the end of the year.
“There is a lot of top competition there, so it’s not going to be easy; it never is. I just look at it that this is better competition and I’ll have to fight harder to win, but I’m going to win that tournament for sure.”