When thinking about brothers in the world of MMA, many will immediately point to the most famous ones they can think of: the Emelianenkos, the Nogueiras, the Shamrocks. More recently, however, another pair of siblings has joined that list: Douglas and Dhiego Lima. The top up-and-coming pair of brothers are taking the world of MMA by storm.

Douglas is currently a top welterweight contender in Bellator. However, not to be overshadowed is his younger brother, Dhiego. Dhiego is just 23 years old and has been fighting professionally since 2010. In that time, he has amassed a near-perfect 8-1 record while defeating some tough competition.

One of the big things regional MMA fighters complain about is getting fights consistently and finding quality opponents. Luckily for Dhiego, that doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal. In fact, he has fought Bellator, Strikeforce and UFC veterans. With names like Nathan Coy, Kenny Moss and Nick Hinchliffe on his resume, it shouldn’t be hard for promoters to take notice of the tough road Lima is taking to the big leagues.

Lima (Jacob Bos/Sherdog)

“My biggest win to date has to be either the Jamie Toney or Keon Caldwell fight,” Dhiego told The MMA Corner in an exclusive interview. “The Toney fight was the first time I fought a real experienced guy. The Caldwell fight was when he was 9-0 and I was 3-0. It was a great example of how you can have a great record fighting no-name guys, but when you step up to the plate the story is different.”

Seven of Lima’s eight wins have come via finish. The well-rounded native of Georgia opened his career showing off his submission prowess, which accounts for four of his wins, but has gone on to demonstrate that he is not one-dimensional. In fact, he has earned three stoppages via knockout. This type of killer-instinct driven style is quick to earn fans and attract the eyes of the top promotions.

Lima’s next opponent will be Ricky Rainey, a fellow East Coast prospect that has spent some time in the XFC promotion. Rainey’s biggest win to date came in his last outing, also with XFC, when he earned a TKO stoppage against Reggie Pena. Luckily for a guy like Lima, who is looking for continued exposure, the fight, which serves as the co-main event of XFC 25 in Albuquerque, N.M., will air live on AXS TV on Sept. 6 for cable viewers to watch live if they so oblige. That’s a significant upgrade, considering the original plan for this fight.

“I was supposed to fight Ricky Rainey at a local show on July 19th, but he had contractual obligations with the XFC, so they bought out that fight,” Lima explained. “The promotion was supposed to find me a replacement for the July show, but that didn’t work out, so basically I get a 12-week training camp for Rainey.”

Rainey represents a roadblock in Lima’s short-term goals. Lima has his mind set on joining a big show like his big brother Douglas, who is a staple of the Bellator promotion. However, Dhiego is thinking even bigger than that. That’s what makes this next fight so important to the young fighter.

“I don’t want any long-term deals unless they are from the UFC, so XFC offered me a one-fight deal for this bout,” Lima said. “I’m not trying to get stuck anywhere unless it’s the UFC. That’s my ultimate goal. I really feel if I finish Rainey at XFC, I will get that contract. So when I go out there, I plan on looking for the finish early and often.”

Lima (bottom) threatens with a submission (Jacob Bos/Sherdog)

Rainey fights out of Renegade Boxing in North Carolina, which would explain why half of his six career wins have come via stoppage from strikes. Not much has been seen in terms of his grappling skills against a high-level guy, but that might change against a polished submission artist like Lima.

“Rainey is a good all-around fighter, but from perspective, he hasn’t fought anybody,” Lima explained. “The XFC has given him chumps to fight. The XFC says they have the best fighters, and I feel disrespected [by that claim], because I have fought UFC and Strikeforce vets in the MFC and other promotions and won, while he beat nobodies.

“I think Rainey is a one-trick pony. He’s got a good right hand, but I train with guys that are better than him everyday. He’s got decent wrestling too, but I train with Division I wrestlers at my gym.”

Dhiego’s confidence was apparent in talking about his fight with Rainey. With Lima already in shape for a fight that was supposed to take place next week, he now turns to keeping in that shape until September. However, things in the MMA world are crazy and can always take a turn in the blink of an eye.

“I would definitely take a short-notice bout if the UFC were to call tomorrow,” Lima confessed. “I am in peak condition, I am more confident than ever and I am ready to go.”

Dhiego would like to thank the XFC, Ricky Rainey and his camp for taking the fight. He would also like to thank all the fans. Follow Lima on Twitter: @DhLima121

Top Photo: Dhiego Lima (L) (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Riley Kontek
Staff Writer

Riley Kontek is a Chicago-land native that has been an addict of mixed martial arts since the first Chuck Liddell-Tito Ortiz encounter. He has been writing on MMA for the last year and is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA. In addition to that, he used to host a weekly radio show on MMA. Though he has no formal training in mixed martial arts, Riley is a master in the art of hockey fighting.