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One of the biggest rivalries in MMA will turn into a trilogy this Saturday night in California in the first round of the Bellator Welterweight Grand Prix. Each man has taken the belt off each other in the past. First, Koreshkov earned a clear-cut five-round unanimous decision over Lima to earn the title in 2015. Just over a year later, Lima came storming back, drilling the Russian with a counter left hook in the third round of their rematch to send Koreshkov to the canvas and reclaim the belt. On Saturday night, we are sure to see another thrilling match between two of the very best welterweights on the planet.
Douglas Lima only has eyes for the belt
Since joining Bellator, Douglas Lima (29-7) has proven himself as one of the best welterweight fighters in the world in any organization. He has held the belt on two separate occasions, losing it once to Koreshkov and again to Rory MacDonald in his most recent bout. Lima has an impressive resume with two wins over Ben Saunders and victories over Paul Daley, Lorenz Larkin, and of course, Koreshkov.
Despite losing the fight and his spot as the Bellator welterweight king in his war with Rory MacDonald, Douglas Lima did a ton of damage to “The Red King.” Lima is known for his brutal leg kicks and that was certainly showcased in his last fight. There was some concern that the doctor would stop the fight due to damage to MacDonald’s leg that looked like a rodent was trying to escape from beneath his skin. If Lima can establish the leg kick against Koreshkov, the limited mobility of the Russian will help him line up a similar counter to the one he landed to win the belt in 2016.
Douglas Lima is known for his elite Muay Thai but he has a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that says he is a true all-around fighter. Early in his career, he leaned heavily on his grappling, securing 11 submission wins, all of which came before signing with Bellator in 2011. If he can soften up the legs of Koreshkov, Lima may want to take the fight to the mat where he will likely have an advantage. If this stays on the feet, it is anyone’s game but the black belt of Lima could become a factor in a five round fight.
Andrey Koreshkov looks to add to the highlight reel
Former Bellator Champion and Russian Master of Sport in hand to hand combat, Andrey Koreshkov (21-2), has delivered some scary knockouts since losing the Bellator title to Lima in 2016. Most recently, we saw Koreshkov defeat Vaso Bakocevic in just over a minute with a nasty spinning back-kick to the body. There are few fighters on the planet that can compete with the kicks of Lima but Koreshkov is one of them. If he can find a home for kicks to the body, he could land a liver shot to end the fight or at the very least, hinder Lima’s cardio in a long fight.
Like his opponent, Andrey Koreshkov deserves to be recognized as one of the best welterweight fighters in the world regardless of organization. The only two losses in his career have come to Lima and the great Ben Askren. Koreshkov holds a title defense over former UFC Lightweight Champion, Benson Henderson and is a legitimate threat to knock out anyone that is put in front of him.
There is no secret to what kind of fight Andrey Koreshkov is going to bring; it is just a matter of stopping it. Of his 21 professional wins, 12 have come by knockout. Five of those have been a result of devastating knees. If Douglas Lima does decide to look for a grappling exchange, Koreshkov may have a chance to time a knee to the head or body, especially if the takedown attempt comes out of desperation. Koreshkov loves a technical brawl but if he can come out of the gates a bit slowly against Lima and work on softening up his body, the knockout blow could present itself later in the fight.
With 39 professional stoppages between these two men and two great fights against each other already under their belts, we should expect nothing short of a classic. Both men are outstanding with their kicks but Lima’s leg kicks could be the difference. Koreshkov loves to spin to generate knockout power in his kicks. If Lima does what he did to MacDonald’s legs to Koreshkov, he won’t be spinning after the second round or so. That lack of movement can be used to set up a takedown and create a jiu-jitsu match or create an opening for a counter.
The key to victory for Andrey Kureshkov is to disrupt the breathing of Lima and eventually find a place to go in for the kill. He will need to work the body and avoid the counters of Lima to set up yet another spectacular finish. Unfortunately, Lima has more tools to win this fight. His striking is on par with the Russian’s and his next-level leg kicks are huge over five rounds. As the underdog, Douglas Lima has excellent value in this fight.
Pick: Douglas Lima +114
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