Two rounds into the headlining bout of Maximum Fighting Championship 27: Breaking Point, welterweight Douglas Lima knew he was losing.
“(Jesse Juarez) surprised me with his wrestling,” Lima told MMA DieHards. “I didn’t know his wrestling was that good. My takedown defense wasn’t that good in the fight, so he took me down at will.”
Lima, a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, wouldn’t go down without a fight, however. He might have spent a good portion of the bout on his back, but he remained aggressive, landing elbows from the bottom and attacking with submission attempts. In the third frame of the contest, “The Phenom” ensnared Juarez in an armbar for the victory.
“I was actually too comfortable,” Lima conceded. “That’s something that shouldn’t happen. I was waiting for the moment, but that’s something I’m not going to do again. I’m sure the next fight is going to be a lot better.”
With the win came the MFC welterweight title, a crowning achievement on a night full of triumph for the Lima family. Douglas’ younger brother, Dhiego, had kicked off the evening’s fights with a big knockout win and Douglas closed out the night’s festivities with his hand raised.
“I think it was better for both of us,” the newly crowned champion said of fighting on the same card as his little brother, the second time the siblings were afforded such a privilege. “It’s kind of a responsibility to win, because our family was watching, everybody was rooting for us.
“I’m just happy he got the win, I got the win. Hopefully we can do it again.”
Just a couple of years ago, none of this seemed possible for the Brazilian-born Atlanta native. Between May 2008 and June 2009, he hit a rough patch, going just 1-3 in the ring. Lima hates to make excuses, but he believes the impact his immigration woes had on other aspects of his life played a large part in his losses.
“It was a bad time for me,” Lima admitted. “I didn’t have my driver’s license. So it was hard for me to get around. I was getting rides from people. It was actually suspended because of my immigration stuff – I couldn’t renew.
“Training was hard. I was stuck at the house, I couldn’t go places. I actually fought sometimes just for the money. I needed the money, so I took some fights that I shouldn’t and lost.”
Not only did the issue hamper his training and his fights, but it also caused him to miss out on an opportunity with the UFC.
“I tried out for (The Ultimate Fighter) about three years ago,” said Lima. “I did pretty good, but they asked for my immigration papers. At the time I didn’t have everything straightened out.”
Lima entered that tough stretch at 11-1, and recovered from it in late 2009 to start his current five fight win streak, culminating in the MFC welterweight title victory. Thus, when he has been able to focus on his training, he has been almost unstoppable.
“I knew everything was going to get back to normal,” Lima declared. “I got my license back. I got my training back on track and, of course, everything went great for me.
“Right now, everything is great. My training is perfect, no turning back. I’ve got to let go of those losses – I hate it, I hate to look at my record and see that, but it’s something I have to deal with. It’s all part of the fighter’s career I guess. I’m just trying to look forward, keep winning my next fight, and hopefully that will never happen again.”
The 22-year old, who has trained in jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai for eight years, works on sharpening his skills with American Top Team Atlanta under the watchful eye of UFC veteran Roan “Jucão” Carneiro. He also works on his striking with six-time world champion Manu Ntoh and has spent time training with BJJ black belt Roberto Traven.
“I’ve been doing everything,” Lima said. “I’m not just a jiu-jistu guy. I’m a complete fighter. I’m an MMA fighter, I gotta train everything and that’s what I do.”
Right now, however, the focus is on improving Lima’s wrestling.
“I wish I did wrestling in high school,” Lima said. “I had to work, so unfortunately I didn’t have the time.”
Lima’s resume features a lengthy list of wins, but his career really took off in September of this year when he made his MFC debut against Ryan Ford. Ford, a top welterweight prospect in his own right, would succumb to an armbar in the second round. The victory led to a promise from the organization of a title fight, which came just two months later with Lima defeating Juarez.
Ford, still a top name within the promotion, defeated UFC veteran Pete Spratt on the same night as Lima’s championship victory and has already been mentioned as a possible first challenger for the belt. Lima wouldn’t have a problem with a rematch against “The Real Deal,” but he is eager to face new challenges.
“It’s not up to me to choose the fights,” Lima said. “If that fight happens, it’s all right. I’m a fighter, it’s what I do. I don’t choose my opponents.
“I would rather fight somebody else just because I want to fight different people. If (Ford) doesn’t fight for it right now, I’ll probably fight him a little later.”
The year 2011 could prove to be a big one for Lima. He has one fight left on his contract with the MFC and says there have already been calls from other promotions. Lima wants to continue to train hard, win fights and hopefully reach new heights within the sport.
But right now, he is preparing to head to Brazil for a well-deserved vacation.
(Lima is sponsored by Full Tilt Poker, Era Fight Wear, Killcliff, ClinchGear, Oakley, Alienware, Crunk Drink and Kamikaze Wear. He would also like to thank his coaches, training partners, SuckerPunch Entertainment and all the fans who watch his fights.)