Dhiego Lima has experienced a number of ups and downs in his MMA career, but at 30 years old, he believes everything is finally falling into place.
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Lima has been the runner-up on The Ultimate Fighter twice and released from the UFC once, but he hasn’t wavered.
“I feel like I’m hitting my prime and it was just perfect timing, you know,” Lima told John Hyon Ko of The Body Lock. “I’m really excited.”
Now on his second stint with the UFC, Lima is currently riding a two-fight winning streak. He lost via second-round submission in his TUF 25 Finale bout with Jesse Taylor and followed that up with a unanimous decision loss to Yushin Okami.
It’s safe to say the winning streak, comprised of a first-round knockout of Chad Laprise and a split decision win over Court McGee, came at a good time for Lima.
“I just feel good and I just feel like I can beat anybody,” Lima said. “Maturity, you know, like fight IQ and the way I train now, just everything, you know, everything that goes with it.I just feel the best everywhere.”
His bosses have also taken notice of his recent efforts. After his win over McGee in April, Lima and his manager sat down with the UFC and ironed out the terms for a new deal.
“I got a real contract now. Before I was on a TUF contract as well,” Lima said. “The pay [of a TUF contract] doesn’t go up much and you know, you start pretty low coming out … I earned [the new deal]. It was a two-fight win streak against tough guys.”
Dhiego Lima returns at UFC 243
With his new deal signed and sealed, Lima was itching to get back into the Octagon, but not before a little bit of relaxation.
“For me, it’s hard to be in camp while my kids are in the summer,” Lima said. “They have their vacation in the States from June and July, so you know, I don’t like being in camp while they’re out of school. I like that time to enjoy with them. I do have three kids, so you know, you can’t take that for granted, man.”
The plan originally was for Lima to get a fight booked in September. The UFC sent him an offer for Oct. 5 in Australia, and he got right back to work.
“As soon as they go back to school, I went to start camp, and it worked out perfect. Just like that,” Lima said. “I was able to go to Brazil, take them to Brazil, have some fun, you know, enjoy vacation, went to the beach a couple of times and you know, it was just great time, and now we’re ready. Now I’m ready.”
Lima will face New Zealand’s Luke Jumeau at UFC 243. Jumeau is 2-1 in the UFC, but he hasn’t fought since February of 2018.
Lima is pleased with the UFC matchmakers’ choice and is expecting to put on a good show for the fans inside Marvel Stadium.
“They see when they match me up with strikers, man, you’re gonna get a fight,” Lima said. “I fought some tough wrestlers before, and of course that’s on my hand, you know, letting me be controlled like that. That’s my fault. But still, you know, you put me against a striker, man, you’re gonna get a fight.
“I’m just excited that they see that and they give me good match-ups, you know, matchups that you’re going to get a fight out of. That’s why we’re on a pay-per-view, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Dhiego Lima on Colby Covington/Jorge Masvidal drama
Lima has been a faithful member of American Top Team for some time, but he has varied his options in training. He spent part of his camp in Thailand, working in locations such as Tiger Muay Thai and Phuket Fight Club.
The variation has helped Lima’s continued growth as a martial artist, but it also gave him a break from the drama going on back at ATT.
Recently, best friends and welterweight contenders Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal turned on one another, creating a rift in the gym.
“I stay out of it, man. I stay out of it,” Lima said. “I don’t even think about that, man. There’s just so much drama going on. And, you know, there’s nothing I can control. Nothing I can do.”
While he doesn’t engage, Lima doesn’t like the presence of the distractions in the gym, and he is frustrated with Covington for starting this beef.
“Colby I think is just doing a little too much right now. That’s way too much, man,” Lima said. “You made a name for yourself already. You’re the number one contender. There’s not much that needs to be said. You just take the fight, you’re gonna fight for the title.
“And, you know, Masvidal, Poirier, those guys are there to fight, man. They don’t care, man. They just want to train and fight and they don’t care about all this stuff outside.”
With a wide variety of customers from all demographics going in and out of ATT’s facility on a daily basis, Lima, a father himself, takes issue with the example being set by his teammates.
“When I see it I’m like, ‘Yo, like, come on, man,'” Lima said. “Cause we got kids that come to our gym, you know, we have a lot of students, you know, we have a lot. So they’re going to ask, ‘Hey, what is ATT? Why are these guys like this?’ So, you know, it’s just, it’s a mess. It’s a mess. It shouldn’t be like that.”
Shane Connelly is a journalism student at Penn State with a passion for sharing the stories of MMA fighters.