There’s no bones about this. Douglas Lima knows Saturday night is the biggest night of his fighting life. Bar none. Nothing will do for Lima other than a bold line drawn through Rory Macdonald’s name, lower legs kicks through the Canadian’s pins, fists and elbows through his face. L-O-S-S. Redemption. At its best. With the world watching.
Forget the million bucks, for now, or even, come to it, the welterweight belt being dangled in the Bellator Tournament Grand Prix that has played out over the last year. No. Lima needs vengeance. Peace for his own fighting psyche, knowing that he grasped defeat from the jaws of victory first time around when they met at The (fabulous) Forum, in Inglewood, early in 2018, when he was scragged by the collar, losing a fight he knew all along he was winning, and indeed, should have won. From the West Coast, where it all went wrong, Lima walks out on the East Coast this weekend knowing he must make it his time. It looks right for him, too. Momentum is there. He says mentally he is there, too, to reverse roles and become Nemesis this time.
“This is the biggest fight of my career, yeah, for sure it is,” the languid Lima told me this week in that long, drawling, chilled way he has of speaking, never hurried, but always alert. He also admitted that he thinks back to that fight 21 months ago “every day”.
You know what that means when he spars, wrestles, grapples, hits the pads and the heavy bag. He is hurting MacDonald, still hurting inside himself over the loss
“I still think about that fight every day. For me, I don’t know… there’s nothing else I can say about it. It’s a rematch I’ve been craving, the welterweight title is on the line and the tournament title is on the line. I can’t wait for this.”
It irked him when he watched the fight back. “I think I’ve watched it one time. I don’t like to watch it. There’s a lot of mistakes in there that I can’t believe I made. It doesn’t feel right watching it,” Lima told The Telegraph.
It bothers him, smothers that fighter’s psyche of his, almost embarrasses him inside. “For me, I don’t know… there’s nothing else I can say about it. I needed to lose that fight to learn. I made that stupid mistake and he got me down. I learned so much from that fight, mentally and training wise. Everything got so much better. I learned a lot more how to win. I’m very thankful for that, though it hurts. It’s a big loss that night but I gained a lot from him. I’ve got a chance to erase everything and stop thinking about that loss.”
Lima defeated Briton Michael ‘Venom’ Page in the semi-final, and is being seen as the favourite against MacDonald, whose mental meanderings have taken him on a path criss-crossing his feelings on fighting and being a spiritual person. There are those who believe the desire to hurt may be leaving the Canadian. “I don’t know about that,” responds Lima on being called the favourite in this mouth-watering meeting of such elite fighters and sportsmen.
“Maybe [he is seen as favourite] because of my latest fights. I showed a lot of improvement after I fought him. I finished two tough guys. It feels good, I’ve been hearing that a lot. Lots of people are considering me the favourite. I think the first fight was very close and it could have gone either way. I think different judges that night and I could have got a win. I feel like I was doing more damage.”
Lima, should he march victorious back to his home in Atlanta with his redemption in place and his belt and bank balance bulging, will be pursued by Page, should the Londoner finish victorious over Derek Anderson at Bellator London on November 23. Lima likes the sound of it, knowing that Page is chasing redemption of his own.
“Michael Page got a nice KO in his last fight and he’s staying busy. I’m pretty sure he’s moved past the loss he had to me. I’ll definitely give him a rematch. It doesn’t matter where it is. UK or USA. He’s got a big following and I respect him a lot. He never showed me any disrespect. I’ll definitely give him a rematch. He’s got to get a couple more fights and we can do it again for sure. I never run away from a fight. He did good against me but it was my time.”
Should Lima defeat MacDonald, MMA maths – never an easy algorithm – suggests that the towering 170lb fighter will arguably be the No 1 in the world. “I love that Bellator is doing co-promotion. I think I can beat any of those UFC guys,” Lima told The Daily Telegraph.
“But it’s not a possibility right now to fight any of them. I wish they’d come up with a co-promotion so we could all fight. I really do. I believe I can get any of those guys. No matter who it is, champion or not. We can’t do anything about it. It bugs me when people say I couldn’t beat their stars. You can’t compare it. The level is all the same. Competition is hard anywhere you go. People need to understand that.”