Today, Bellator MMA announced that they have re-signed one of the faces of their promotion in former featherweight champion AJ McKee (20-1). McKee was coming up on the end of his current deal and there had been speculation that he might test the open market.
However, Bellator and Scott Coker have made re-signing McKee a top priority and they were able to get the deal done. McKee has signed a multi-fight, multi-year deal per a press release from the promotion.
“Our top priority has always been to cultivate talent from the ground up, and with AJ I can proudly say we have witnessed this young man blossom into a bonafide superstar in the Bellator cage,” said President Scott Coker.
“It’s also our priority to retain top talent, and with AJ entering the prime of his career, it was important to make sure he continued representing the Bellator brand, much like he did recently in Japan, for the foreseeable future. I am looking forward to AJ’s next challenge, an appearance in our 2023 Bellator Lightweight World Grand Prix, which showcases the best 155-pounders in the world.”
Bellator and AJ McKee’s Future
When I look at AJ McKee, I’m reminded so much of Michael Chandler. Early on in Chandler’s career, there was so much speculation on if he would make the jump over to the UFC. Instead, Chandler built a massive name for himself under the Bellator banner. That is where he became one of the very best in the world.
AJ McKee could have easily jumped ship to the UFC upon entering the open market. However, he wanted to stay with Bellator and they made him a top priority. McKee is ready to move forward and is definitely going to be one of the faces of the promotion for the forseeable future.
As Coker said, McKee will now turn his attention to the Lightweight Grand Prix. It will be very fun to watch McKee take on the best lightweights in the promotion as he goes for a second world title.