Former Bellator MMA welterweight champ Douglas Lima may be around even money going into his rematch with Michael Page, but many expect the result will be the same as their first meeting.
At Bellator 267 on Friday in the SSE Arena in London, American Top Team product Lima (32-9) rematches boisterous Brit Page (19-1) atop the card. Already in London to be in Lima’s corner, Lima’s coach Roan Carneiro spoke to Sherdog about the climate of revenge in the hometown of “MVP.”
“MVP were pretty respectful in the first meetings we had,” Carneiro noted, “a natural attitude from someone who got knocked out in the first fight, but we know he will change when we start to have events open to the public.”
The organization, which will be staging the card on Showtime in the U.S. and the BBC iPlayer for British crowds, has put a lot into building up the crowd for U.K. audiences. The coach was quite impressed by the quantity of advertisements for the main event in London.
“Everywhere you look there is a poster of the event, streets, subway,” a surprised Carneiro explained. “The arena will certainly be packed with fans to support MVP, but Douglas is ready to take all that pressure on his back.”
Lima may have lost his last two while Page finds himself on a five-fight win streak since falling short to Lima, but Lima’s coach is not convinced. Carneiro was not impressed by the opposition for “MVP,” stating that they were not top fighters.
“If [Page] had beaten Neiman Gracie, Jason Jackson or Rory MacDonald I could say he evolved,” Carneiro said frankly, “but he got five straight wins against non-ranked guys, while Lima is coming from two title decision losses, 10 rounds of war, against a legend of the sport, Gegard Mousasi, for the belt of middleweight division, and [welterweight champion Yaroslav] Amosov, who is undefeated [at] 25-0.”
When asked about his prediction for the rematch, Carneiro believes the result will be the same.
“I think the cheering will make [Page] expose himself even more,” the coach stated. “He will move a lot to avoid Douglas’ short distance, and every time he fails on his clowning movements, he will get more tense. I bet Douglas will, once again, finish that fight until the second round.”
ATT Atlanta fighters received a high-profile guest to help train fighters including Lima for their camps. Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight king Kamaru Usman spent two months with the team, which helped both Lima and Usman.
“Kamaru and Lima helped each other a lot,” Carneiro analyzed. “Besides doing a lot of sparring they exchange a lot of knowledge. I can’t give you details, but Usman was really important to Douglas in that camp for MVP.”
With the experience of having trained Colby Covington in ATT and Usman as well, Carneiro also gave his predictions for the main event of UFC 268 on Nov. 6 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
“I already trained with both. Colby is a great wrestler but has no punching power, unlike most people think, Kamaru has precision and knockout power. I see another knockout from Usman,” the head coach guaranteed.
Carneiro also revealed that Bellator came very close to staging a Brazilian event in 2019.
“I’m a very close friend of former UFC Brazil CEO, Giovani Decker,” Carneiro boasted. “This guy has amazing connections with really big players in Brazil and I can tell you, he got a few inches from bringing Bellator to Brazil in a huge event in Arena da Baixada [the arena that held UFC 198], in Curitiba. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen because one of the players gave up.”
The ATT Atlanta leader expects that after the pandemic, the Brazilian economy grows again and Bellator finally comes to Brazil.
“Few months ago, the Brazilians had five belts [in Bellator]: Patricio Pitbull [featherweight and lightweight], Douglas [welterweight], Juliana Velasquez [flyweight] and Cris Cyborg [featherweight],” Carneiro said with pride. “Once the Brazilian market does not invest in the event, it’s pretty clear that it’s not interesting for Bellator to have so many Brazilian champions, so look what they are doing: The biggest champion of the event Pitbull had to face McKee inside his house, in the neighborhood he grew up.
“And here we are in London, after [the] KO, MVP, the former welterweight champion came to England to dispute the revenge in his territory,” Carneiro concluded. “That’s unbelievable. They should put at least in a neutral place, like Atlanta. I truly hope one day it changes and we can finally have our champions fighting with the support of their home crowd.”