Lima told MMAFighting.com that he was expecting to defend his 170-pound title against Paul Daley or Andrey Koreshkov. A week later, Bellator announced he will put his belt on the line against Daley, the British striker, at Bellator 133 on Feb. 27 at the Mohegan Sun in in Uncasville, Connecticut.
"I’m the champion and I will fight whoever they put in front of me," Lima told MMAFighting.com. "Koreshkov is hurt, so he wouldn’t be ready to fight in February."
Koreshkov earned a shot at the title after winning the promotion’s last welterweight tournament, but Lima sees the UFC and Strikeforce veteran Daley as the best fight to promote him as champion.
"Daley is a bigger name and has fought in many big promotions, so a win over him would be great for me," Lima said. "He has fought some of the best fighters in the world in MMA and also at K-1. I’m excited, can’t wait to finally fight him.
"I want to test myself against the best," he continued. "I believe I can defeat anyone in my weight class. I want the world to recognize my work and what I can do, and everybody will recognize that after this fight."
Lima (26-5) and Daley (35-13-2) have 38 knockout finishes combined, and the Brazilian won’t shy away from the challenge.
"I’m bigger than many fighters in my division, but I don’t see that as an advantage," he said. "I don’t think five or 10 pounds makes much of a difference. We’ll see. But if we go to the ground and I’m on top, he’ll feel my weight. I think my jiu-jitsu is better (than his), but I believe a lot in my striking game. I hit hard, and he will go down if I land a good shot. I want to trade punches with him."
Lima, who won 14 of his past 15 fights, puts his Bellator title on the line for the first time against Daley, and doesn’t rule out moving up to 185 pounds in the future.
"I’ll stay at 170 for now," he said. "I would never fight another tournament at 170 pounds because I can’t cut weight to fight every month, but fighting every three months is easy. I’ll keep my weight around 200 pounds or lower, so I’ll stay at welterweight. Who knows, one day I can move up if I keep getting bigger."