Rory MacDonald has been warned that Douglas Lima's leg kicks are so hard, it sounds like someone is firing a shotgun.
MacDonald and Lima fight for MacDonald's Bellator welterweight championship belt in the Bellator welterweight World Grand Prix finals at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut on October 26. It is one of Bellator's signature events of the year and is worth $1 million.
It is also a rematch of a 2018 bout between the fighters, one in which MacDonald prevailed despite having his leg battered and bruised by Lima.
Since then, both fighters entered the Grand Prix event, won their quarterfinal and semifinal fights, and now clash once again on Saturday.
Jake Hager, the Bellator heavyweight who fought a "no contest" because of accidental low blows at the Bellator 231 event on Friday, told Business Insider this week that, as a teammate of Lima's, he fears what the Brazilian striker could do to MacDonald.
"Oh man, it's an incredible fight," Hager said. "I feel like since Douglas Lima was in my locker room [in May] that I'm on his team and he's on my team.
"I'm going for Douglas Lima … his leg kicks are just incredible and so powerful," Hager said. "It was like shotguns going off in the locker room, I've never heard anything like it. It's going to be a great fight and showcase everything that Bellator is."
"I'm looking to get my leg kicked off again," MacDonald joked. "I'm going to do my best."
Lima brutalized MacDonald's leg so bad in the first bout last year that there were early fears it could be broken.
—Rory MacDonald (@rory_macdonald) January 21, 2018
And having already shared a Bellator MMA cage with Lima, MacDonald knows the enduring pain that can come with taking one too many of Lima's leg kicks. "He's a very strong puncher and kicker," MacDonald told us. "He hits hard, is very confident, and he's very aware in every position. He's not easy to put away."
The 30-year-old veteran of 27 professional MMA bouts is even expecting Lima to perform better than he did in the first bout. "He's improved," MacDonald said. "It's quite obvious that he's hungry and he wants to prove he can beat me. That seems evident to me that he's gotten better and is working hard."
Lima told Business Insider that MacDonald has a lot of heart, is a very smart fighter inside the cage, and has great experience. "It was a great fight. He is able to fight well through hard times and that is very important in a fighter. I can't wait to do this again."
Saturday's showdown features two ambassadors for the sport
Lima and MacDonald spoke to Business Insider at the same time. Considering past face-off type shows and experiences, it is not uncommon for fighters to trash talk or disrespect one another when they are on the same call, sitting opposite each other, or in front of one another at a weigh-in.
Neither Lima or MacDonald behave this way, though. They are respectful and spiritual martial artists, and preferred to talk to us about their religion and finding the balance between worshipping God and competing in MMA.
MacDonald even provoked retirement fears when he was on the microphone in the middle of the cage following his Grand Prix quarterfinal victory over Jon Fitch at Bellator 2019. The fight was a draw, but because MacDonald was the champion, he proceeded into the semifinal stage.
He then said that, because of his new-found beliefs, he did not know if he had the same drive to hurt people anymore.
Watch the interview again here:
MacDonald told us he has now found a balance between Christianity and competing in combat sports. "I'm a born-again Christian," he said. "A lot of things changed in my life the last two years and it's something I … didn't have an answer.
"I received a calling from the Lord and what exactly that meant, I was confused on it. That translated obviously in my fight career. It came out in that fight, but these last few months I have gotten clarity on moving on from the Lord so I'm super thankful for that and eager to do a great job.
"It was more feelings in my heart. I was just conflicted. I didn't know if this was what I was supposed to be doing. Not so much as if God was speaking to me, but I do feel that in the last little while, this summer, that I've had experienced and things that God has illuminated that and has moved me forward with what he has called me to do, what he has gifted me with — a platform to reach people and be an example."
Lima, also a Christian, told us he loves MacDonald's revelations even though he personally found the balance between religion and competing years before.
"I have definitely dealt with things like that," he said. "I'm a Christian myself and have been for a while. I do not have feelings like that towards fighting. It's a job for me. I've not had bad feelings about it, it's a sport."
On MacDonald's born-again revelations, Lima said: "I love that … I wish everybody could experience that. It's important to go into a fight with a clear heart and a clear mind."
MacDonald and Lima headline the Bellator 232 event on Saturday.