This past Saturday on the main card of Bellator 301, former featherweight champion and promotional star AJ McKee (21-1) was back in action. McKee was held out of the Lightweight Grand Prix due to an injury but he ended up taking on another fighter who was supposed to be in the Grand Prix in Sidney Outlaw (17-6).
Outlaw said before the fight that he wanted to bring the fight to McKee and live up to his last name of Outlaw. McKee usually has exciting performances so there was a lot of hype behind this fight. Unfortunately, the fight wasn’t exciting at all.
In all three rounds, Outlaw was able to land takedowns and largely control McKee. In fact, he had about 12 minutes of control time in the fight. Unfortunately for Outlaw, he never tried to do anything offensively outside of hold McKee down. Meanwhile, McKee blasted Outlaw with shots from the bottom including nasty elbows that cut Outlaw open bad.
After three rounds, I wasn’t sure who won. Under the new judging criteria, you’re supposed to be always trying to finish the fight. You’re supposed to work towards a finish and not just control your opponent. By that criteria, McKee should’ve easily gotten the win at Bellator 301. However, older rules might’ve given the fight to Outlaw. Fortunately, all three judges gave every round to McKee and he got the decision win.
McKee’s stock after Bellator 301
Today, we are likely learning that Bellator is folding as we know it. PFL’s Donn Davis is appearing on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Hour today and he has already teased a massive announcement. With no other Bellator events planned, 301 was likely the final show for the promotion.
We are likely going to learn more about what happens to the fighters today, but ahead of the announcement, what’s the stock level of AJ McKee? McKee is just a few fights removed from being undefeated and the Bellator featherweight champion. He was on top of the world and then he re-signed a big deal to stay with the promotion.
However, since then, things have been pretty meh in terms of his career. He lost a decision to Patricio Pitbull and then decided to move to lightweight. He’s 3-0 since jumping up in weight. However, none of the fights produced the level of performances we saw from McKee at 145. He just doesn’t look like the same special talent since moving up in weight.
While his record is impressive and he’s still a former Bellator champion, I don’t think his stock is that high heading into the sale. They didn’t even give him the microphone after his win on Saturday. I don’t know if the answer is to move back to 145 or what, but we need a vintage McKee performance if he wants to get back to that superstar status.