Douglas Lima was looking to get back in the win column on Friday, hoping to snap a perilous skid as he returned to the middleweight division at Bellator 296.
The former welterweight champ and grand prix winner had lost four straight fights coming into the fight with Dutch striker Costello van Steenis, looked upon as a possible future title challenger at 185lbs.
For those waiting for the fight to pop off, there was little in the way of explosions in the opening round. Rather, a measured pace, single strikes, some solid kicks, but nothing flashy, or overly damaging, that landed anyway.
Towards the end of the round, van Steenis got the fight down, and paired with being slightly more active than his Brazilian counterpart, he likely captured the round.
Another takedown from Costello van Steenis but it doesn't take long for @PhenomLima to get back up! #Bellator296 | 🇺🇸 @SHOsports | 🇫🇷 @RMCSport pic.twitter.com/azizgB40Hk
— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) May 12, 2023
Round two saw Lima get his right hand and low kicks going. van Steenis fired a spinning kick that sailed wide about two minutes in; that left him off-balance, and he would end up on his backside, Lima chopping at his legs. The ex-champ, however, showed no interest in engaging on the ground, and let van Steenis back up.
Later in the round, the pair would tie up along the cage, Lima in control, van Steenis hanging on with underhooks. He used that to reverse, and coming off the cage managed to put Lima on his back. Lima kept his guard closed, but with just 30 seconds left in the frame, van Steenis only had time to land a few elbows.
For a fighter with his back to the wall, Lima had seemingly lacked fire through the opening two rounds. Entering the third, he was possibly down two, and even if not — the second was close — he needed a big round to pull off a win. That pace, however, started slow, until Lima hurt van Steenis with a right hand after a time, backing him to the fence. There, van Steenis covered up, while Lima ripped a combo, hitting the body and side of the head. van Steenis peeked out from behind his guard, only for a jab to sneak through. The Dutch fighter had survived, and they moved back to center.
With two minutes to go, van Steenis shot in on a takedown that was easily stuffed. The pair wound up against the fence, with Lima eventually turning out and breaking free. They closed out the round on the feet, then headed to the scorecards. The third had most certainly been Lima’s, while the first likely belonged to van Steenis. That left round two, a very close frame. In the end, all three judges scored it 29-28 for Lima, allowing him to pull out of the worst tailspin of his decorated career.
Official Result: Douglas Lima def. Costello van Steenis by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)