Lima beats MacDonald, reclaims welterweight title

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Douglas Lima got his win — and his title — back. Plus, much more in one of the highest stakes bouts in Bellator history.

Lima defeated Rory MacDonald by unanimous decision (49-46, 50-45, 50-45) in the main event of Bellator 232 on Saturday night at Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun. With the victory, Lima wins back the Bellator welterweight title and secures the Bellator Welterweight World Grand Prix tournament championship. The latter comes along with a $1 million purse.

Lima is 14-3 in Bellator and has solidified his position as one of the best fighters in the promotion’s history. He is now a three-time Bellator welterweight champion and both times he regained the belt by beating the man he lost it to.

MacDonald, a former UFC title contender, beat Lima to win the Bellator welterweight title in a back-and-forth bout in January 2018. This was a very different fight. Lima was in the lead just about the whole way, though it was close. MacDonald didn’t put forth much significant offense, as Lima stuffed his takedown attempts over and over.

“Rory, tough as nails, man,” Lima said. “Hats off to him. He’s a warrior.”

MacDonald had a solid first round, controlling Lima against the cage for most of it. He was unable to get a takedown and didn’t land any hard shots, but dictated the action. Lima landed two hard right hands and a nice jab in the second.

In the third, Lima landed nice leg kicks, which was a hallmark of his offense in the first fight, but not as much here. Lima landed a left hook, shovel right hook and left head kick in the fourth. In the fifth and final round, Lima reversed a MacDonald takedown attempt and got dominant position, landing hard shots from the top. That was perhaps the best offense of the night from either man.

MacDonald was able to sweep and finished the fight in top position, but he wasn’t able to land enough ground and pound to sway the judges.

Lima (32-7) has won three in a row since that loss to MacDonald. The Brazilian fighter, who lives and trains in Atlanta, has won six of his last seven and has established himself as the best welterweight in the world outside the UFC. Lima, 31, came in ranked No. 7 among welterweights by ESPN.

MacDonald (21-6-1) was unbeaten in four of his five fights in Bellator coming in. He signed as a free agent from the UFC in 2016. The Canadian had discussed retirement earlier this year, though he made no inclination toward that in his post-fight interview. MacDonald, 30, was on the last fight of his contract and could end up a free agent.

In the co-main event, exciting veteran Paul Daley stopped Saad Awad via TKO at 1:30 of the second round. Daley (42-17-2) landed his trademark left hook and the rest was academic. Daley, 36, has now won two straight following a two-fight losing streak and said he wants a few more fights at home in England before retiring. Awad (23-13), a 36-year-old California native, was coming in on six days notice.

Also at Bellator 232, fan-favorite Nick Newell fell by split decision to Manny Muro in a hard-fought contest. It was the second bout in Bellator for Newell, a congenital amputee who was born without a full left arm. Newell (16-3) had a two-fight winning streak snapped.

Patrick Mix, a prospect out of JacksonWink MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico, finished Isiah Chapman by submission with a rare Suloev Stretch at 3:49 of the first round. Mix (12-0), a Buffalo, New York native, is just 26 years old and expected to be one to watch for Bellator at bantamweight.

In the main card opener, Kevin Ferguson Jr., son of Kimbo Slice, beat Craig Campbell by TKO in just 38 seconds.

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