Bellator Welterweight champion Ben Askren will defend his title against season five tournament winner Douglas Lima tonight at Bellator 64 at Caesar's Windsor in Windsor, Ontario. Askren, a former U.S. Olympic wrestler, has been the Bellator champion since winning the second season tournament and taking the title from first season winner Lyman Good in 2010. Lima beat Ben Saunders in the season five finals to earn the right to challenge Askren for the title.
Despite Lima's formidable skill-set, Askren is confident going into the bout. He spoke to Sherdog about Lima:
"I really think dangerous or not dangerous, the best thing I can do is put somebody on his back and beat him up. The thing I've been getting better at is actually beating people up. I've obviously been good at taking people down in MMA, but it's taken me quite a while until I was able to start really doing a lot of damage with my punches. I think I've got to that point in my career, and so I will be able to take him down and I will be able to do a lot of damage once I'm on top of him.
"Number two, cardio. I've seen him in fights. I don't think he pushed the pace. I've also heard that his training is kind of lazy. Toughness and cardio's something you can't teach. You've got to have that inside you, and that's something I've got. I think I can really push the pace on him. Number three, my striking is vastly underrated. I think it's got so much better from my last fight. I think he's going to be very surprised by that. Number four, we're both brown belts in jiu-jitsu, but I would venture to guess once I get on top, I'll be able to stay there and do a lot of damage. I think there's a lot of reasons I have an advantage."
Lima spoke to MMA Junkie about Askren and how he's studied Askren's last title defense against Jay Hieron at Bellator 56 to prepare:
"But as soon as I got back to the U.S., I went straight back into training," he said. "I've been working on a lot of wrestling and counter-wrestling since that's his (Askren's) game - plus my usual muay Thai and such.
"I got to learn a lot watching (Askren vs Hieron). I keep watching it and studying it. It's definitely going to help my game.
"He's a good fighter. He's learning his striking. He trains with good people, good coaches (and is a) fantastic wrestler. (I've got) nothing against the guy, but I'm going to go in there and try to rip his head off."
This is a huge test for Askren who struggled against Hieron and barely got a split decision. Lima has shown exceptional striking but it remains to be seen if he can stay on his feet long enough to put his striking to work against Askren.