USA TODAY US Edition

Lima king of the Bellator welterweig­hts again

- Nolan King MMA Junkie | USA TODAY Network

UNCASVILLE, Conn. – Douglas Lima is once again the Bellator welterweig­ht champion.

In the final leg of the 170-pound grand prix tournament, Lima (32-7) defeated Rory MacDonald (21-6-1) by unanimous decision (49-46, 50-45, 5045) in Saturday night’s Bellator 232 headliner.

As confetti rained down on the Mohegan Sun crowd, Lima stood in the cage alongside Bellator president Scott Coker, rapper 50 Cent and an oversized $1 million check. As the official announceme­nt was read, gold was wrapped around Lima’s waist for the first time since June 2017.

The matchup was the second between MacDonald and Lima. The two fighters reran their Bellator 192 bout from January 2018.

In the first meeting, then-challenger MacDonald defeated then-champion Lima by unanimous decision to claim the title.

The rematch had a slow pace throughout, much to the displeasur­e of the fans in attendance at Mohegan Sun Arena. MacDonald’s game plan was grappling-heavy, while Lima looked to use leg kicks and jabs.

Despite numerous takedown attempts from MacDonald, the American Top Team’s Lima stuffed them at will.

In the final round-and-a-half, MacDonald started to bail on his takedowns before completion. While MacDonald maintained control for long periods of time against the cage, Lima was the one doing most of the damage.

Money doesn’t mean as much to Lima as regaining the 170-pound title. The belt symbolizes his perseveran­ce to defy the odds and come back from a potentiall­y career-ending knee injury years ago.

“Money comes and goes,” Lima said. “I think for me that’s a bonus. Maybe it’s because it didn’t settle yet; because I didn’t deposit it yet. It still doesn’t feel real. But this right here is real for me, man. This is where all the work goes into it. It’s important for me to be a champion.”

As for MacDonald, the former UFC welterweig­ht title challenger was at peace with the loss. He believes a trilogy bout with Lima will happen somewhere down the line.

“It’s very likely (we rematch),” MacDonald said post-fight. “We had two close fights. He won one, I won one. It’s kind of inevitable that we’ll probably fight again.”

Earlier in the night, welterweig­ht contender Paul Daley (23-13) finished longtime Bellator veteran Saad Awad (42-17) by second-round knockout; undefeated bantamweig­ht Patrick Mix (12-0) pulled off the first Suloev stretch submission against Isaiah Chapman (9-4); and underdog Manny Muro (11-6) upset home-crowd favorite Nick Newell (16-3).

Kevin Ferguson Jr. (4-2), son of the late Kimbo Slice, defeated Craig Campbell (3-4) by 38-second knockout.

 ?? WILLIAMS PAUL/ICON SPORTSWIRE VIA AP ?? Douglas Lima (blue gloves) earned a unanimous decision victory against Rory MacDonald for the Bellator welterweig­ht title.
WILLIAMS PAUL/ICON SPORTSWIRE VIA AP Douglas Lima (blue gloves) earned a unanimous decision victory against Rory MacDonald for the Bellator welterweig­ht title.

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