Douglas Lima is once again the Bellator welterweight champion.
Lima was near-perfect in a rematch with Rory MacDonald, shutting out the decorated vet on two of three judges scorecards to take home a unanimous decision and recapture the welterweight title.
The final scores were 50-45 twice and 49-46 for Lima, who picked up a $1 million check as the winner of the Bellator welterweight grand prix.
“It’s been a long road, but we did it,” said the three-time champ afterward. “He’s a warrior. I’m honored to share the cage with him one more time, and I have nothing but respect for him.”
The win capped an impressive run for Lima in the eight-man competition. The Brazilian slept former champ Andrey Koreshkov and stopped the hype train of Michael “Venom” Page with a knockout in his first two tourney bouts.
“Heart,” Lima explained of his approach to the rematch against MacDonald. “The meaning of that man is heart. I picked that up the first time we fought. I learned so much in that fight, and I have him to thank for that.”
MacDonald made sure he wasn’t an easy target early in the fight, using lateral movement to keep Lima from tenderizing his lead leg. A pair of hard kicks still thwacked that target and his body, and by the midway point of the opening frame, he had shot for a takedown. Lima stopped it cold and resisted further efforts to complete takedowns.
“I trained very hard and felt very sharp,” MacDonald said. “Unfortunately, I didn’t put as much pressure as I should have. I wasn’t on that gas pedal enough until later in the fight when it started working.”
The pace didn’t improve much in the second frame as MacDonald moved cautiously against Lima’s forward pressure. Lima did most of the effective striking – though he never threw more than one punch or kick at a time – and stopped a single takedown attempt.
MacDonald increased his efforts to get the fight down. Lima’s takedown defense didn’t falter, and he continued to pop out strong jabs. MacDonald’s penchant for changing levels kept him from sitting down on punches. But when MacDonald came charging late in the frame, he landed a stiff left that marked his best punch of another tentative round.
A failed takedown set up Lima’s return to form with a leg kick that slammed into MacDonald early in the fourth. He went back to his best weapon repeatedly and followed up with punches, prompting MacDonald to flop to his back midway through the frame. A head kick sent the champ reeling back to the fence, setting up an extended battle for position.
Desperate to reverse momentum, MacDonald went all-out for a takedown in the fifth frame, sending Lima reeling backward off a leg kick. On the way to top position, Lima reversed, again denying the UFC vet an advantage. MacDonald threw up submissions and tried his best to initiate a scramble. Instead, he wound up exposing himself to strikes from the bottom. With less than one minute left, MacDonald finally reversed.
With 45 seconds to go, there wasn’t enough time to erase the damage done. The loss left MacDonald at 1-2-1 in his past four bouts, including a failed bid for the middleweight belt against now-former champ Gegard Mousasi.
Fighting one of the most heavy-handed fighters in the sport on short notice, Saad Awad had the right idea of not matching power for power.
Awad, fresh off a first-round submission loss to Goiti Yamauchi, stayed mobile and snuck in shots that prevented Daley from loading and detonating with his hands. That didn’t keep him from taking a few hard shots here and there; a reverse elbow rattled his brain that Daley snuck himself. But he survived, and he even managed to surprise the Brit slugger with his own reverse elbow thrown as he flopped to his back after a failed takedown.
Daley kept his cool in the second round and stuck to his bread and butter, which is stopping takedowns and making opponents pay. As Awad’s chances dimmed to keep the fight on the mat, Daley began to turn up the tempo on his striking. A leg kick set up a left hook that sent Awad crashing to the mat. With a roll to his side, Awad signaled he was done at the 1:30 mark of the second frame.
Rare submission win for Patrick Mix
Patrick Mix ran roughshod over Isaiah Chapman, slamming him to the canvas early and locking up back control to prevent escape. A body triangle left Chapman with few other options than defending his neck. As it turned out, that left another appendage exposed.
When Mix couldn’t slink to the side and finish a guillotine, he grabbed Chapman’s leg and pulled off a Suloev stretch, a rarely-seen submission brought back to prominence by UFC fighters Aljamain Sterling and Zabit Magomedsharipov.
The time of the tap was 3:49 of the opening frame, extending Mix’s unbeaten streak to 12 fights.
Newell upset in first fight of new Bellator deal
Nick Newell’s new Bellator contract started on a sour note.
Manny Muro outwrestled and outworked the hometown favorite, leading to a split-decision loss that had the crowd at Mohegan Sun Arena booing loudly.
The final scores were 29-28 twice for Muro with one judge dissenting via a 29-27 score for Newell, who suffered just his third professional loss.
Muro, who in June snapped a three-fight skid on the regional circuit, pushed Newell backward and seized the takedown initiative early. He also exposed his neck moving for a leg, allowing Newell to quickly turn the tables. A few hard squeezes later, Muro was still there, and Newell moved to secure back control.
Despite the early stumble, Muro didn’t shy away from another grappling exchange early in the second. Newell initiated scrambles that helped him get to back control briefly, but another error put him on his back against the cage. Back on the feet, Muro gambled big with a flying knee and missed subsequent shots that might have done real damage.
The grappling heavy fight began to take its toll on Newell in the final frame. Muro won the early fight for the takedown and took the back. There, he threatened a choke for most of the round, and Newell was unable to escape. Newell survived to the final bell, but it was a bad look for the judges.
Baby Slice bounces back with bombs
Kevin Ferguson Jr., otherwise known as “Baby Slice,” bounced back in a big way to open the main card, knocking out Craig Campbell in short order.
Campbell snagged a leg early to avoid Ferguson Jr.’s bombs and exposed his head driving for a takedown against the fence. In response, Ferguson unloaded elbows that rendered his opponent unconscious just 38 seconds into the fight.
At least one of those elbows appeared to land illegally on the back of Campbell’s head. But they came in rapid succession against a moving target, and the blow that appeared to knock Campbell out landed on the jaw.
Full Bellator 232 results:
Douglas Lima def. Rory MacDonald via unanimous decision (49-46, 50-45, 50-45)
Paul Daley def. Saad Awad via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 1:30
Patrick Mix def. Isaiah Chapman via submission (Suloev stretch) – Round 1, 3:49
Manny Muro def. Nick Newell via split decision (29-28, 27-29, 29-28)
Kevin Ferguson Jr. def. Craig Campbell via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 0:38
Lance Gibson Jr. def. Dominic Jones via KO (strikes) – Round 1, 1:58
Zarrukh Adashev def. Tevin Dyce via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 1:39
Jornel Lugo def. John Douma via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
John Lopez def. Dan Cormier via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)