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Canadian MMA fighter Rory MacDonald faces Douglas Lima on Saturday at Bellator 232.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

After earning a majority draw with veteran Jon Fitch in April, Canadian welterweight Rory (Red King) MacDonald wondered in his post-fight interview if he still had “that same drive to hurt people anymore.”

But as the born-again Christian goes into his Bellator 232 showdown against Douglas (The Phenom) Lima on Saturday, MacDonald says he has come to terms with faith and fighting.

“Instead of a legacy as a fighter, I want to leave a mark in the sport about the good news of Jesus Christ,” said MacDonald, a B.C. native who calls Montreal home.

“After the Jon Fitch fight, about being confused, the Lord’s really given me clarity and shined a light on where he wants me to go, how I could answer the calling he’s given me. “

MacDonald and Lima face off in the final of the Bellator Welterweight Grand Prix with a US$1 million winner’s purse and the 170-pound title on the line. The card takes place at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Ct.

MacDonald’s Bellator contract expires after this bout but he says he plans to keep fighting. He wants to use his platform in mixed martial arts to help spread God’s word.

He acknowledges his sole drive used to be becoming a world champion. “Now God’s blessed me with a life outside of fighting,” he said.

And the 30-year-old MacDonald has a new view on fighting for a living.

“Obviously I’m going to provide for my family. I enjoy martial arts. I love to compete, I love to be at the top. I mean that’s why I started in this. … I want to let people known what the Lord blessed me with. He changed my circumstances and brought it to an amazing place. And continues to do so. As I walk in faith every day, God just keeps doing amazing things one after the other. And will continue to do so”

“So I just want to get that out to people on the platform he’s given me, with the skill set he’s given me,” he added. “And just be an example and a testimony to people out there that God is real, he loves you, he cares for you in every situation and wants to have a relationship with you.”

Lima, 31, understands what MacDonald has gone through.

“I’m like that. I’m a Christian – the past four years I really got into it and I’ve been following everything right,” said the Brazilian-born, Atlanta-based fighter.

“I love that he’s doing that,” he said of MacDonald. “Because it’s a change. It’s real, you know what I mean? Like it really changes you. And for him, he’s just adjusting to it. I think he’s still the fighter that he is. He’s going to come back the same way – maybe even better.

“I think it’s good for him. Because I feel how good it is for me and for my personal life and my career in fighting.”

MacDonald and Lima have met before with the Canadian winning the title with a five-round decision at Bellator 192 in January 2018.

There is plenty of mutual respect between the two. Both are family men with two kids each. MacDonald became a father for a second time with the July 15 arrival of son Rocky.

MacDonald (21-5-1) has put his title on the line twice already in the Grand Prix, facing Fitch before winning a decision over Neiman Gracie in June. Lima (31-7-0) submitted Russia’s Andrey (Spartan) Koreshkov in September 2018 and knocked out England’s Michael (Venom) Page in May.

MacDonald calls the million-dollar purse “a great blessing.”

“I’m looking forward to being able to use it in a good way,” he said.

Lima calls the bumper payday “definitely a great motivation for the family, for myself, for my career. But the main thing is winning this fight … getting this (championship) belt back.”

Lima, who once held the welterweight title in the Edmonton-based Maximum Fighting Championship, has compiled an 13-3-0 record in Bellator since coming on board in 2011.

His younger brother Dhiego Lima (15-7-0) is in his second stint with the UFC.

MacDonald was 14 when he started training with David Lea in Kelowna, B.C.. He had his first pro fight at 16, with his parents having to give their approval to do so. Even then, only a few athletic commissions would sanction the youngster.

He became the youngest fighter on the UFC roster at 20 when he signed with the promotion in 2009. He went 9-4-0 in the UFC, losing an epic title fight to (Ruthless) Robbie Lawler at UFC 189 in July 2015. His UFC contract ended one fight later, after a loss in Ottawa to Stephen (Wonderboy) Thompson in June 2016, and he signed with Bellator.

The Canadian is 3-1-1 in Bellator with the only defeat coming at the hands of middleweight champion Gegard (The Dreamcatcher) Mousasi at Bellator 206 in September 2018.

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