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Bellator 140's Douglas Lima on Ben Askren: 'If he comes back, I'll be ready for him'

Bellator's welterweight champion is excited to return to action after a year-long absence against Andrey Koreshkov later tonight (Fri. July 17, 2015) inside Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. "The Phenom" still gets asked about former champ Ben Askren, and while he's not in the promotion, Lima said he'll be ready if he returns.

Bellator MMA

True champions are not annointed until they successfully defend their belts for the first time.

That is the case for Bellator MMA Welterweight champion, Douglas Lima, who defeated Rick Hawn for the vacant title at Bellator 117 in April 2014; however, things haven't gone as he'd hoped since winning the 170-pound strap.

The Brazilian champion hasn't fought since the win over Hawn. He was scheduled to fight Paul Daley in February at Bellator 134, but had to withdraw because of injuries. Complications from several surgeries on his knee delayed his return to the cage even further.

"I had three surgeries for meniscus and cartilage and stuff like that," said Lima, who defends his title against Andrey Koreshkov at Bellator 140 later tonight (Fri. July 17, 2015) at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. "And it was a fungal infection. A very rare fungal infection. I"m glad they found it in time because that could've cost me my leg. It was very, very scary, but I'm finally cleared, I'm ready to go and I just feel blessed."

Numerous things have changed in his absence, including the arrival of the man who now runs the ship, Scott Coker. Lima says, "Scott Coker is doing great things" and he is " very happy to be a part of it." He's excited to get back in there and likes the match up against "Spartan," who won the Season 10 welterweight tournament to earn a shot at his title.

"He is a striker and so am I, so we are going to deliver one of the best fights you'll see," Lima said. "I'm ready. Ready to fight him on the feet. Ready to fight him on the ground. I'm excited about the match up and I'm just ready."

"The Phenom" has won five in a row, and all of those victories have come by knockout. His Russian counterpart likes to strike, too, and that is the area that Lima is most concerned with when he steps in the Bellator cage later this evening.

"He has some good kicks and spinning attacks, he's tall, and he's explosive," said Lima. "Striking is the main thing for him. He's going to be tough."

One common thread between both Lima and Koreshkov is that former Bellator welterweight champion, Ben Askren, handed each of them their last loss, respectively. Askren now competes for ONE Championship, but Lima still gets asked about "Funky" quite often.

"A lot of people ask about him," said Lima. "How I feel because he left as the champion. People say I'm not the real champion, but It's not under my control. If he comes back I'll be ready for him. It's just people are always asking about that. It's all good. I'm here to fight whoever they put in front of me. There is nothing I can do. If Bellator signs him I'll be sure to give him a crack at it."

For now, Lima can only turn his attention to fighters within Bellator. With the upcoming fight against Koreshkov and one against Daley likely on the horizon, "The Phenom" will have plenty of good competitors to focus on. And with Coker at the helm, he knows more are going to join the ranks in the welterweight division.

"I love it," said Lima, on Coker's ability to bring in great talent. "I know Scott is bringing some good guys and guys that have a big name. That 's what I want. I want to fight the best. I want to fight exciting strikers, wrestlers. Bring them over. I'm just very exciting to be a part of it. I can't wait to fight all of them."

Obviously, things haven't gone as he hoped since winning the title, but Lima is happy he's healthy after the infection scare with his leg, and anxious to get back into action and prove he is the true champion by getting that first title defense under him.

"I want to defend this belt," he said. I want to put it to work. I want to defend it. I'm just very happy to fight again. It's been a long time. I want to show the people, show the world what I got. It's time to work. You are the real champion when you defend it the first time. I want to defend it two more times this year, so I want to stay busy."

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