Gifted Brazilian fighter Douglas Lima predicts he will end the fight with Gegard Mousasi within the scheduled distance.
Though less than ideal, Bellator welterweight champion Douglas Lima is so desperate to fight Gegard Mousasi he will volunteer to do so behind closed doors in a CBS studio in July or August.
Not only that, the gifted Brazilian says the fight, regardless of when and where it happens, will end within the scheduled distance.
“I don’t see the fight with Gegard Mousasi going five rounds, and I want it behind locked doors soon as possible in July August. As long as he is fit, and can get to the USA, let’s get the fight on in the CBS studio.”
That’s the fighter in Douglas Lima talking, of course. Pushed to comment on fights and other fighters, nothing much changes, not with Lima, not with any of them. They all speak with the passion of old and the same energy and ambition they had three months ago, back when the words coronavirus and Covid-19 were words mostly unheard of or ignored. They all act like nothing has changed.
Yet the reality is quite different. Many fighters, in fact, including the likes of Douglas Lima, are fighters caged right now. They are raring to go but with nowhere to go. They are creatures of habit waiting to be told when it is okay to return to their natural habitat.
“We just opened our gym (in Georgia) and finished construction. We’ve been waiting for them to say we can open. They said this week we could,” Lima said. “We’re still thinking about it because there’s a lot of stuff we still can’t do. We might open half of it with some classes. We’ve still got to be safe. There’s still a lot of people who don’t like the idea and want to be safe. We’re looking at the safe way. I’m very excited to open, but we’ve got to be safety-first.
“That’s something we’re talking about – checking people’s temperature before they walk in. We’ll definitely be working on safety precautions. Last thing we want is someone in the gym with Covid. Imagine that! I just opened my gym up and then somebody comes in with Covid. We’ve definitely got to be careful.”
Thirty-two-year-old Lima had originally hoped to fight three times this year but has now had to lower those expectations somehow in light of the current pandemic and lockdown. His last fight was back in October against Rory MacDonald, the night he won both the Bellator Welterweight World Grand Prix and the Bellator welterweight championship, and his momentum, as a result of that performance, had never been greater going into 2020. Instead, Lima now plays the waiting game along with so many others, insisting he will be ready to return whenever he is allowed to do so and hopes it will be “as soon as possible”.
His focus, meanwhile, has shifted. No longer concerned so much about fighting, or defending his title, Lima, like any parent during this time, has concerns closer to home.
“I’ve got to be careful with my kids,” he said. “We just keep family here. It’s crazy times. I fight safely and I can’t take too many risks in life either.
“No symptoms, no colds. It’s pollen season now so there are a few coughs. I take a few tablets and the whole family seems healthy.
“My wife joked and said I couldn’t go to a store and sneeze because they’d jump! You can’t cough. Crazy times.”
Despite the craziness of these times, the UFC, an organisation for whom Lima has never competed, have in recent weeks forged ahead and started staging events. Some have criticised them for doing so, while others, including Lima, believe it is a brave and sensible step if it can be done correctly.
“If they’re taking the right precautions and testing everyone, I’d be fine with it,” he said. “I would be fine with no crowd. I’m being aware of it and being safe, but I don’t know, I think life goes on as well. There’s lots of fighters who need to fight to survive. If they are being careful and not going overboard, doing everything right, then I think we should go ahead and do it. I heard Bellator will start in July. If they are planning to do that then I’m down to fight.”
If the option is there, Lima would fight Mousasi behind closed doors in July. Nothing about the set-up would be ideal, including the training beforehand and the amount of time both would have to prepare, yet the Brazilian concedes waiting for an ideal time to fight could see only a further prolonged bout of inactivity given the current state of affairs.
“Oh sure,” he said. “We’re healthy, he’s healthy. Get the two of us in the cage and a referee and let us fight.
“With just my coach and four guys, that’s good enough for a training camp for me. One of our training partners was supposed to fight and they said he should be on the card in May, so we’re training. There is four of us. We’re doing a great training camp. Once a day, five times a week. I’m somewhat in shape. If they tell me to be ready in six weeks, I will be. I don’t need a lot of people; I just need one or two quality guys and that’s it. We’re definitely being careful, but we can get ready for training.”
In many ways, the idea of fighting being condensed down to just the fighting element, thus doing away with all the pre-fight hullabaloo and nonsense, works out fine for a champion like Douglas Lima. Never one for verbal back-and-forth, he does his work in silence and in the shadows and therefore seems better equipped than most to thrive in this period of uncertainty and change.
“I don’t think face-off stuff is important,” Lima said. “He’s (Mousasi) always respectful and I’m respectful. I don’t think none of that stuff carries over to the fight. That’s why I don’t trash talk. None of that matters. Some people get carried away and you can use that, but I’m going to tell you right now it doesn’t work against me or for me. It doesn’t matter if I can talk of not.
“When they close that door, that’s when we work. I don’t let stuff get to my head. I’m focused on what I have to do and I’m a fighter. It sucks that people want you to talk smack to sell a fight. It sucks that that’s how people sell fights. But that’s not me. You can say whatever you want. What really matters is after that cage door shuts. Then we have a fight. Outside of the cage, I’m cool, I’m chilled and I love my family.”
In terms of the fight itself, Lima predicts a battle of wits against Mousasi, either in an empty arena or one packed full of hungrier than usual fans.
“That’ll be a chess match,” he said. “He explodes sometimes and he likes to come forward a lot. I like that. I don’t see it going five rounds, I really don’t. I’m confident in myself and I think I can put him away. I know he comes forward and he likes to strike a lot, but he also mixes up the wrestling really good. I’m pretty sure he’s going to do that because he’s got size over me. He might try to use his weight on me. He’s very good when he’s got on top of somebody on the ground.
“Sometimes it seems I fight slow, but once they step in there and get hit, everything changes. That goes for everybody. I don’t care if it’s a bigger or smaller guy, once I hit them a couple of times, they understand. That’s how I feel here. I feel my power will carry over to middleweight really good. I always train really good at 200lbs. I feel good and strong.”
In this time of simple goals and small achievements, feeling good and strong at the start of lockdown and feeling good and strong at the end of lockdown is about as much as anybody, including fighters, can hope for. Rest assured, though, when the call eventually comes, Douglas Lima will be not only good and strong but more than ready – and happy – to return to action.