Two of the best talents on Bellator’s roster will collide as former champion Gegard Mousasi looks to reclaim his throne against welterweight champion Douglas Lima at Bellator 250.
— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) October 24, 2020
“The Dreamcatcher” has admitted that his shot at a perfect ending to his career evaporated with the loss to Rafael Lovato Jr. But while the chance to end his career on a long win-streak is over, Gegard Mousasi can still cement his place as one of the best middleweights of all-time. His eight fight win-streak from the UFC to Bellator that saw him defeat Thiago Santos, Vitor Belfort, Chris Weidman, Alexander Shlemenko, Rafael Carvalho, and Rory MacDonald established him as arguably the best in the world at 185 pounds, Israel Adesanya included.
Though he came up short in the epic five round effort to Lovato Jr in 2019, he bounced back with a victory over former foe Lyoto Machida and looked no worse for wear in returning to the win column. Looking at the middleweight landscape, no name could add more to his legacy and resume than the current welterweight champion. He has already said he doesn’t see his career going much longer, and it could be argued that he could pick no better time to retire than out on top after winning the title for a second time.
— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) October 20, 2020
While Mousasi has been battle-tested in the UFC waters, Douglas Lima has built his reputation as a shark hunting outside the pool. A veteran of Bellator since 2011, “The Phenom” has come up short only three times in his career: To Ben Askren, to Andrey Koreshkov (which he avenged twice), and to Rory MacDonald which he avenged last year. Along the way he notched victories over the likes of Ben Saunders, Paul Daley, and Lorenz Larkin en route to building a reputation as one of the best home grown talents to ever come out of Bellator. His reputation as a powerhouse and finisher reached the point that when a picture was released of him facing off with UFC champion Kamaru Usman, the reaction was that it would be a fun and competitive contest.
Lima’s shut-out decision victory over MacDonald to win the Welterweight Grand Prix may have brought him the trophy and paycheck, but it was his performance in May that truly saw his star turn. From the beginning, the tournament bracket appeared poised to set up a dream final with then champion MacDonald against striking dynamo Michael “Venom” Page. In the semifinals, Lima squared off with Page and after a cautious first round he found home for a devastating right hook that separated Page from his senses. The shot went down as one of the best knockouts of the year and drew Lima more attention than any of his previous victories had before. Now with the chance to take out one of the world’s best talents in a weight class above the one he normal competes in, Lima could bring even more attention to his career.
Stylistically, the usually lumbering and heavy-hitting Lima will need to change his style at 185 pounds if he’s to overcome the multi-faceted attack of Mousasi. Electing to counter-strike as he usually does it could prove costly against the technically sound Dutchman so he must take advantage of being the smaller athlete and get in-and-out with short combinations. Mixing up his attack with a steady diet of kicks will also be crucial to slowing down the former champion. For Mousasi, using high volume and forward pressure to keep Lima from mounting an offense should overwhelm the smaller Brazilian. Mousasi’s proficiency on the ground could see also see him test the grappling of Lima as “The Dreamcatcher” may feel confident that he can out-grapple his foe if he has top position.
For Lima, the option of surveying the landscape at 170 pounds for another challenge will be a real factor. He has expressed this week that he does plan to move back down to welterweight regardless of the result, in which case old foes like Larkin or Page would likely be next for him. That said, he could find himself with options at middleweight like Mousasi. Should Mousasi win and choose to continue fighting, or Lima win and stay at 185, then names like Anatoly Tokov or John Salter stand out as possible options.