Eyes on the Prize: MMAmania interview exclusive with MFC 31 fighter Dhiego Lima

Dhiego Lima has a very bright future.

At just 21 years old, he's quickly become one of the fastest rising welterweight prospects in MMA and he's got some great genetics on his side.

His older brother, Douglas Lima, was the welterweight champion of Canada's Maximum Fighting Championships before the bright lights of Bellator beckoned him, but Dhiego stayed behind to allow himself further time to develop.

With a 6-0 record overall (all stoppages) and a 3-0 record in MFC, he's quickly building up some steam to potentially challenge for the vacated welterweight title that big brother left behind.

But first, he'll be fighting "Dangerous" Terry Martin, a UFC veteran who most recently came up short while challenging for the elder Lima's title. Dhiego Lima spoke with MMAmania.com during an appearance on The Verbal Submission this Sunday night and discussed his upcoming fight, his relationship with MFC president Mark Pavelich and even his first fight in elementary school. 

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): How pumped are you for this upcoming fight at MFC 31? This is your fourth fight in the MFC and they're really building you as this next big guy.

Dhiego Lima: I wake up smiling every morning man. To fight a guy like that [Terry Martin] who's been everywhere including the UFC, it's almost like a dream come true man. I'm so excited man. This guy is really tough and this is where I can show people what I can do. This is the fight I've been waiting for. I know my brother beat him in a minute but this guy he had a four fight winning streak and look at the guys he's beat already. I'm ready.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): That was actually something I was going to ask you about. basically, all the guys that you fought before, they were prospects or guys without a ton of experience yet and now you're stepping in there against a really experienced veteran. This is a big step up for you.

Dhiego Lima: When I won the fight in Ontario, I pretty much knew that was the last least-experienced guy I was ever gonna fight  and after that when I had Jamie Toney, he was a veteran as well, he'd won against some better guys and was a brown belt so it started with that one and after I finished him quick, a guy with experience like that I was like, "Alright man! Now you know. Now I've gotta get ready for the big show because they're gonna send in experienced guys." After that fight in Ontario, I kinda knew already so I've been preparing myself, preparing extra for that. I'm more motivated than ever, I'm excited and I'm ready to go.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Yeah, and you mentioned that your brother beat Terry Martin when they met for the MFC welterweight title a couple months ago. I've gotta know, did he give you any tips on how to beat this guy?

Dhiego Lima: Yeah, for sure man. I trained with him for that fight, for Terry. We were preparing together because I was fighting a short, stocky guy too so we pretty much had the same preparation. I know how to beat him for sure.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I've gotta ask. You and your brother probably compare your skills every once in a while. Who do you think hits harder between you and your brother?

Dhiego Lima: Oh I definitely hit harder (laughs). That's no question. He's got the better ground of course but I definitely hit harder. You can ask him, he'll tell you.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Oh, I'd believe it. I saw what you did in that last fight. It was close for the first minute or two but you just started unleashing this ground and pound assault.

Dhiego Lima: Yeah, nobody can really see but it was a right hand standing that caught him. He came in and I threw a short right hand and that was the one that hurt him. The knee didn't even land and on the ground he was dazed already. It was really a right hand that nobody saw. I'm like, "Yeah, just keep thinking it was only the ground." Nobody saw that right hand that went in and that's been my favorite punch. I throw it really short and straight and it lands but people don't even see it.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I'm interested in getting to know what makes you tick, Dhiego, what makes you who you are. I read that one of your earliest memories was beating up the school bully when you were in 5th grade. I've got to hear this story.

Dhiego Lima: I'm a calm guy, I'm really calm. When you see me, nobody thinks I'm a fighter because of how nice I am. I was just heading down to lunch and this kid was always making fun of me and whatever 'cuz I used to be a fat kid. I was always a fat shit that people made fun of so this guy was pushing me down the stairs and I'm like, "Stop, stop!" and finally when we got down the stairs I had it and I just pushed him and the guy fell on his mouth and broke his two front teeth and I was like, "I'm sorry man but I told you!" That was like one of the only fights I ever had growing up. We're too nice, me and my brother. We never really got into fights or anything like that.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I know that you didn't always take your training seriously. What really was it that kind of clicked with you that made you realize this was what you truly wanted to do?

Dhiego Lima: Well, all my amateurs fights, I fought for belts and everything but I just did it to be cool. Everybody was doing it and I was like, "Yeah, I'll do it." I didn't really take it serious and then on my first pro fight was when I really saw it. My first pro fight I got taken down and just got beat up that whole first round man. The second round started the same and then in the middle of that second round something just hit me. I had a kid on the way and everything just clicked on. I was like, "Listen, this is what you're gonna do for a living," and I just came back in the third round and beat this guy up and finished him with 20 seconds left in the fight I tapped him out with a triangle. After that fight, I was like, "Alright man, this is what I've got to do. I've got to take it seriously," and that switch turned on and I haven't looked back since.

Ben Thapa: With the recent debacle with Nick Diaz and the press conferences, is he still your favorite fighter? Is he still somebody you look up to?

Dhiego Lima: As a fighter, yes, not as a person though. I like his fighting style. That's about all man. You can be a badass and of course we all know he's a badass but once it's on for business, then it's business. You've got to do your job. It's part of your job. That's part of your pay, showing up for all these things. You've got your fans waiting to see how your training camp is going so that's kind of stupid, man. I'm a badass too but listen, man, it's professional and I'm a professional. Like Terry Martin wanted a catchweight at 175 and I'm like, "Listen, dude. You're a veteran man. You've been in the UFC. I fight at 170. I'm not a fucking clown. I'm not gonna take a catchweight fight. You be a professional and you make your weight. It's all part of the game man. It's part of the job." I like him [Diaz] as a fighter but that is unprofessional man. It's unprofessional.

Gerry Rodriguez: I know you have a contract with MFC, but say you fight through your contract with MFC and your brother wins the 170 title at Bellator. Would you listen if Bellator comes knocking?

Dhiego Lima: No, not at all. For me, I already told my manager man. After my MFC contract is up, I will be 9-0 and I it's either UFC or MFC. I will either resign with them or if the UFC's looking, I'll go there. I won't go anywhere else. I will have enough experience. I'm fighting a guy like Terry and if I beat him I'll be close to a title shot which they'll probably give me somebody tougher and tougher and I know from that experience I'll be ready for the big show. It's either the MFC or the UFC.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): How's the relationship been with [MFC President] Mark Pavelich? I know he was pretty mad at first when Douglas left the MFC but he kinda softened his stance on that now.

Dhiego Lima: That was kinda crazy at first because I almost got caught up in all that because me and Douglas have the same manager and I almost got caught in it. I called my manager and I called Mark and put them on the phone and I was like, "Listen, this is my career man and my brother's career is a whole different thing. I don't want you guys getting mad at each other and it's gonna affect my career," so we put that straight and then that was it man. I love Mark, man. He's a really nice guy. He texts me every week to see how training's going. He cares man. That's what I love about him, man. They take care of us.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): That's wonderful and my last question which I ask to all our guests is how do you see the fight playing out next Friday night against Terry Martin?

Dhiego Lima: It's gonna be a finish. I'll tell you that. It's not gonna go the distance. I don't know what's gonna happen but I feel great, man. It's not gonna go the distance. I'm ready to go in there and throw down, man. He better be ready. I hope he's not taking me lightly because if he's taking me lightly, he's gonna pay for it in the first minute. I'm hoping he comes at his best because I don't want know, "AHHHH!!!" man I'm telling you I'm riled up already. You're gonna see a great Dhiego Lima in there. It's gonna be a finish. 

Dhiego would like to thank his coach, his brother, and his family for staying with him.

For the complete audio of our interview with Dhiego Lima, click here.

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