Bellator NYC was set up to be Lorenz Larkin’s crowning moment.
Instead, it became confirmation of something that’s long been whispered in the MMA world: Douglas Lima is one of the most underrated fighters in the sport.
The hard-hitting Lima outstruck and outmoved Larkin in the latter’s Bellator debut on Saturday night and retained his welterweight title via unanimous decision. The judges’ scores at New York’s Madison Square Garden were a pair of 48-47s and a 50-45.
The opening round was a tentative affair, as the duo used the opening five minutes to feel out each other’s range and reactions.
The second turned out to be the most important of the fight. Larkin, making his Bellator debut after jumping over from the UFC, began to pick up his volume and rocked Lima on multiple occasions.
But Lima landed the fight’s biggest blow, a wicked left hand to the cheek as Larkin charged in, which dropped and nearly knocked out Larkin.
Lima wasn’t able to finish the fight, but Larkin, fighting out of a southpaw stance, noticeably appeared disinclined to engage from there. With the exception of a solid fourth round in which Larkin showed flashed of brilliance, Lima was able to impose his will and work at his preferred pace for the rest of the fight.
“Come get it, come get it,” Lima said. “I know he’s been through a lot of tough fights, but he hasn’t faced me.”
With his ninth win in his past 10 fights, Lima, a two-time Bellator champ, improved to 29-6. Larkin (18-6, 1 NC) had a two-fight win streak snapped.