Ben Saunders vs. Douglas Lima: Saturday Night’s Other-Other Main Event
Yes, Saturday night is the UFC’s debut on FOX, a landmark moment for mixed martial arts. Yes, Saturday night is Pacquiao vs. Marquez 3, a huge trilogy fight featuring the biggest name in boxing.
So you’d be forgiven if you’re not wondering what’s on on MTV 2. But hey, that’s what they invented PVR for, right? If you can, I highly recommend finding a way to watch this card. There’s plenty of reasons, but for now I’m going to focus on the main event.
Ben Saunders vs. Douglas Lima, in the final of the Bellator season 5 Welterweight tourney for one big cheque and a shot at Doink the Clown. But really, for a shot at the “big time” of MMA. The winner of this fight, quite simply, becomes a “name” in the elite ranks of the Welterweight division. Not top 10 in the world, not yet – but knocking on the door? Absolutely.
And I am being mean to Ben Askren here, the reigning Bellator Welterweight champion. Anyone who knows Ben’s outstanding amateur wrestling pedigree knows he has the base and the athletic ability to be a dominant force in MMA.
I can’t wait to see him face the winner of Saunders vs. Lima.
Ben Saunders is just tons of fun to watch. I’ve been a fan of his since his clinch-destruction of Marcus Davis, but it wasn’t until his last fight against Luis Santos that I believed Saunders could be an elite-level Welterweight.
Anytime you say the words “rubber guard clinic” in an MMA context, I’m immediately interested. But when you say the words “rubber guard clinic on a Nogueira BJJ black belt,” well that just about turns the knob up to 11.
When a muay thai specialist effortlessly gets submission attempt after submission attempt off of his back, that’s impressive. When said muay thai specialist sticks his tongue out at his corner and flashes a sh*t eating grin while throwing up a rubber guard…well that’s just badass.
Like I said: tons of fun to watch.
And then there’s Douglas Lima, an American Top Team prospect on an 8-fight win streak, with an outstanding 20-4 overall. He sent a statement in his semifinal fight as well, by scoring a vicious KO of Chris Lozano that proved Lima can hit pretty darn hard.
What’s more, Lima is the reigning Maximum Fighting Championship 170 lbs champion. The Alberta-based MFC is one of the biggest Canadian MMA promotions, and some notable UFC fighters – past and present – have fought under it’s auspices. While fighting for MFC, Lima compiled a 3-0 record, which included capturing and defending the aforementioned Welterweight strap.
Anyone who is a Ryan Ford hater (and I know there’s a few of you out there) loved the night Lima made Ford tap in his hometown – in Lima’s MFC debut no less. That submission earned him some recognition and a nice even mix of TKO and submission wins have since guided him to the Bellator finals.
This fight is an amazing style match-up on paper, as both guys are cut from similar molds. They are perfectly capable strikers with a decidedly thai-bent, who both have solid and (in Ben’s case) funky BJJ skills to fall back on if need be. Lima may have the power advantage, but it’s close. Ben is likely the better grappler but again, we won’t know for sure until Saturday night.
All I can guarantee is it’ll be a fun fight. Just as fun, I’m sure, as watching Cain and Junior slam into each other like bulldozers, or watching Pac-man and Marquez settle the score once and for all.
If you see one fight Saturday night…see one of those ones. But if you see two fights Saturday night…try to fit this one in somewhere? If you see three fights, this one is a shoe-in.
So set your PVR. Set up a PinP. Set up two TV’s. Or, you know, just watch the fight later on the internet. It doesn’t matter. What matter is that you should watch. Or at least try. Cause the starving stars of Bellator deserve (a little) recognition too.
And the fight rocks. That should always be the bottom line.