When Paul Daley signed with Bellator, Douglas Lima wanted to welcome him to the organization. More than a year later, the Brazilian is finally facing "Semtex" in the cage, and the opportunity came less with than two months’ notice.
"I haven’t changed much in my camp, to be honest. It’s pretty much the same," Lima told MMA Fighting. "They are both strikers, so I kept doing what I was doing for Chidi. I try to train everything, jiu-jitsu, muay thai and wrestling since everybody is well-rounded today, so the change didn’t affect me that much."
"It’s a bigger fight now, though," he continued. "I’m fighting a more popular opponent in a bigger card. To tell you the truth, Chidi has less name but I think he’s more dangerous than Daley. His style… He has more reach and is faster, so that’s more complicated sometimes. I don’t know. Each one is better somewhere, but I liked the change. I liked it because I wanted to fight Daley for a long time."
Fighting in enemy territory is nothing new to Lima. In fact, he welcomes the chance to finally face "Semtex" at the O2 Arena.
"The pressure is on him," Lima said. "He’s fighting at home and he has to win. I’m cool. It doesn’t bother me at all. I’ve done that before, and it’s no big deal. I’m focused on him, and all the pressure is on him."
Lima will compete for the first time since losing the Bellator welterweight title to Andrey Koreshkov last July, and expects to earn a shot at the Russian champion with a win Saturday.
"Whoever wins this fight will fight for the title next. I asked (Bellator), and they said yes," Lima said. "It adds to the fight. It’s more important now because all I want is to get my belt back."
And to leave no doubts that he should be the next in line for the gold, the Brazilian aims to finish the fellow striker in London.
"I want to trade with him," he said. "If I have the opportunity to take him down, I will. It would be good to work on top, but we’re here to fight. I always say that I might go for takedowns but I end up striking the entire fight [laughs]. I like to trade, and fans like that. We’ll see. If it’s up to me, I’m going there to finish the fight. I can’t leave it to the judges in his home."
Even though "The Phenom" hasn’t fought in a year, he followed closely everything that happened in the promotion. Koreshkov defended his belt with a dominant victory over former UFC and WEC champion Ben Henderson, and Lima wasn’t surprised.
"I’ve said that before. (Koreshkov) is too big for the division, and Ben Henderson is too small," Lima said. "I knew that the weight and strength would be too much. That Russian is also way better than him standing, and Ben Henderson didn’t get close to taking him down. I was not surprised. I even made some money in this fight. I bet some money in the Russian, and I won."
Henderson wasn’t able to capture the gold in his Bellator debut, but he opened a lot of door for fighters that are willing to go after more money from one organization to the other. With "five or six" fights left in his contract, Lima isn’t worried about free agency right now since his next goal is to re-capture the belt, but says that Henderson’s decision was great for the sport.
"You have more top fighters competing in other organizations. Bellator is a big promotion and pays well. It’s great that the sport is growing," he said. "At the end of the day, we have bills to pay and it’s not easy. You work hard and deserve to be better paid, so having more promotions like Bellator is good for the sport. Fighters deserve more money, and it’s happening."