Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney listened in as newly-crowned welterweight champion Douglas Lima talked about the difficulties of making 170 pounds and how his future might be at a different weight class.
While none of this was news to Rebney, it did allow for a “light-bulb moment” to happen involving Lima and another Bellator champion.
“The first thing that jumped to my mind was Alexander Shlemenko vs. Doug Lima,” Rebney told FightLine in an exclusive interview. “That would be insane.
“Oh my god.”
Shlemenko is scheduled to face Tito Ortiz next month in a non-title fight, and will meet the season 10 middleweight tournament winner after that. Lima must wait for two more fights to find out his next challenger, but the seeds have been planted as far as Rebney is concerned.
“(Lima vs. Shlemenko) would be explosive,” he said. “And a fun fight to make.”
The 26-year-old Lima (26-5) has won five straight, all of which have been finishes. Along with earning a TKO over Rick Hawn to win the vacant title, he has stopped Ben Saunders, Bryan Baker, Michail Tsarev and Jacob Ortiz since a 2012 decision loss to Ben Askren.
Shlemenko (50-7) is on a 13-fight win streak and has earned four finishes in his last six fights. He submitted Brennan Ward this past March for his third successful title defense.
For the time being, Rebney and company will work to keep Lima at welterweight before addressing a change.
“He looked better cutting (weight) this time,” he said. “He was drawn out, but not prisoner of war (looking). Hopefully, he will hold (the title) for a while, at least.
“He’s been with us for a long time and called me a bunch of times saying making 170 is a disaster. I wanted to give him a shot (at the title) and we talked about it. He’ll defend it a few times.”