Is AJ McKee the best featherweight in Bellator?

AJ McKee

Last week at Bellator 253, AJ “Mercenary” McKee (17-0) made a massive statement. In the semi-finals of the Featherweight Grand Prix, McKee took on former bantamweight world champion, Darron Caldwell.

This was expected to be the toughest test yet for McKee inside a Bellator cage. The former bantamweight champion was a national champion wrestler, and he could hold his own on the feet as well. The fight was expected to be a war.

In reality, the fight was not very close. In the opening round at Bellator 253, Caldwell did a good job of using a low shot to take McKee down. Caldwell seemed content with staying in McKee’s guard while trying to land elbows.

McKee said all week that if he was taken down, Caldwell would have to constantly be working to keep him there. The Mercenary started throwing elbows off his back, but you could see the wheels turning in his head about something else.

After Caldwell landed a big elbow, he placed his head on the right side of McKee. Seemingly, he was going to try to setup another big elbow. However, McKee slid his arm through and locked in a neck crank that even most BJJ experts hadn’t seen before.

McKee locked his legs in a figure four and lifted his hips for maximum pressure. You could tell the squeeze had the former Bellator champion in all kinds of pain. He was forced to tap just one minute and eleven seconds into the first round.

Bellator’s Best?

AJ McKee is truly something special. He made his professional debut with Bellator back in 2015 just three days after he turned 20 years old. His entire career has been spent inside the Bellator cage. McKee is truly evolving into something special.

I truly don’t see a weakness in his game. He’s got great skills on the feet with decent pop. His accuracy is something that’s extremely impressive and I love his kicks. He also possesses very good wrestling, and he’s incredible on the ground.

McKee is going to be a nightmare for anyone that he faces. His next challenge will likely be the Bellator two-division world champion, Patricio Pitbull (31-4). Pitbull is also coming off of an incredible performance back at Bellator 252.

These two men just seem like they are on a collision course. Pitbull will have to face Emmanuel Sanchez (20-4) first in his semi-final matchup. However, Pitbull will be a massive favorite seeing as he has already defeated Sanchez.

The biggest fight that Bellator can make right now is the matchup between McKee and Pitbull. If this fight happens in 2021, it will be a huge spectacle for fans. McKee is on his way to superstardom and if he can dethrone Pitbull, he might have a claim as the best featherweight in the world.

UFC’s Volkanovski vs Bellator’s Pitbull: Who’s the best featherweight?

This past week at Bellator 252, Patricio Pitbull Freire (31-4) knocked out Pedro Carvalho to defend his featherweight crown. After the fight was over, Pitbull and Scott Coker both claimed that Pitbull was the best featherweight in the world.

Of course these comments were met with some criticism. Including from current UFC featherweight champion, Alexander Volkanovski (22-1). Volkanovski just rolled his eyes in a Tweet after hearing the comments from the Bellator champion.

There has been a lot of debate in the MMA community about the UFC’s champions and Bellator‘s champions. Now, most if not all of the time, people are going to say that the UFC has the best champion.

The arguments are completely justified considering the talent pool in the UFC compared to Bellator. There is no questioning the fact that it’s tougher to get to the UFC crown versus getting to the Bellator crown.

However, Patricio Pitbull definitely belongs in the conversation as one of the best in the world. He’s currently ranked fourth in the world according to ESPN’s MMA divisional rankings. So the question is, how would Pitbull do in the UFC?

UFC vs Bellator

Conventional wisdom would give Volkanovski a huge advantage over Pitbull considering the competition level. Pitbull has had some tough fights in Bellator, but those have mainly come at lightweight versus featherweight.

It should also be known that Pitbull has been defeated at featherweight in Bellator (Daniel Straus). Volkanovski has never lost in the UFC’s featherweight division. If Pitbull was to go over to the UFC, how would he do?

The crazy thing is, I think Pitbull has a better chance against Volkanovski than he does against other top UFC contenders. Pitbull has a ton of power and is basically the same size as Alexander Volkanovski.

We’ve seen the UFC champion hurt at times, particularly in his last fight with Max Holloway. Neither man is unbeatable, and I think Pitbull would have a good chance at beating Volkanovski. Not saying he would, but he’d have a shot.

However, given his style, I think Pitbull would struggle with other guys in the division. I think Max Holloway and Brian Ortega are bad matchups for Pitbull. Frankly, I think Brian Ortega is a bad matchup for anyone in the world right now at featherweight.

At the end of the day, Pitbull belongs in the conversation with the best in the UFC. However, he is not the best featherweight in the world. Unfortunately for him, he cannot lay claim to that title while fighting in Bellator.

The competition level just isn’t there. There is one clear best featherweight in the world right now, and that is Alexander “The Great” Volkanovski. That is my opinion, but there is an argument for both sides.

Bellator: Aaron Pico flourishing since moving to Jackson’s MMA

Last night at Bellator 252, Aaron Pico (7-3) returned to the cage to take on John De Jesus (13-9). De Jesus was expected to give Pico a tough challenge in the prospects third fight of 2020.

However, Pico showed once again just how far he’s come since making the switch to Jackson’s MMA. The top Bellator prospect completely dominated John De Jesus from the opening bell to the knockout finish.

In the first round, Pico used his dominant wrestling to control De Jesus. Pico showed incredible takedowns and he showed off his great ground control. De Jesus forced a couple of scrambles, but ultimately Pico got him right back down.

When the fighters were on the feet, Pico did a fantastic job of ripping power shots to the body and up top. What I was really impressed by was his ability to chain together his punches and transition into his takedown attempts.

Pico seemed to have De Jesus guessing all night. In the second round, De Jesus forced another scramble to get back to his feet. However, once they were there, Pico was able to land a massive overhand right that put De Jesus out.

Bellator’s Pico has transformed

Pico’s domination just goes to show you how much he’s evolved since moving over to Greg Jackson’s gym full time. He started training part-time at Jackson’s prior to the loss to Adam Borics.

However, after that loss, Pico decided to put his career completely into the hands of Greg Jackson. Jackson is known as one of the best if not the best trainer in the world. Jackson has trained some of the best in the world.

Most notably, Jackson has been a lead trainer for Georges St. Pierre and Jon Jones. Jackson is known for his brilliant gameplans and his ability to really bring out a fighter’s strengths. Pico’s Bellator career is really taking off since joining Jackson’s.

He looks like a completely different fighter. Over his last two performances inside the Bellator cage, we’ve seen just how dominant Pico’s wrestling is. His hands and power are great, but his wrestling is where he really shines.

Early in Pico’s career, we’d see him rely on one strategy. Either it was completely wrestling or completely boxing. He was drawn into firefights and found himself staring up at the Bellator lights a few times.

However, Greg Jackson has really transformed the way Pico fights. We are now seeing him tie everything together and he’s looking incredibly special. His three performances this year should put the Bellator featherweights on notice.

He’s still improving and he’s still got more to learn, but Aaron Pico is looking more and more like the special fighter we knew he could be. A lot of the credit for that should go to Greg Jackson.

Patricio Pitbull knocks out Pedro Carvalho in the first at Bellator 252

Tonight Bellator returned to action and the best fighter that the promotion has to offer was in the main event. Continuing with the Featherweight Grand Prix, featherweight champion, Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (30-4) took on Pedro Carvalho (11-3).

Patricio Pitbull is one of the very best fighters in the world. Over the years, he’s become a face of Bellator. However, Carvalho was expected to give him a big challenge tonight.

Training under the same coach as Conor McGregor, Carvalho is good wherever the fight goes. He fights extremely long and he’s got slick submissions on the mat. This fight was expected to be a battle.

However, it was evident from the opening bell that these two were on different levels. Carvalho came out and threw some decent strikes trying to pressure the champion. However, Pitbull was just biting his time waiting for his opportunity.

As the first round continued, Pitbull started touching Carvalho up. He buckled Carvalho with a right then he dropped Carvalho with another right. A scramble found Pitbull on Carvalho’s back.

However, Carvalho was able to work his way back up to his feet, but he wouldn’t be there long. Pitbull hurt him bad with another right hand. Then a clean leaping left hook put Carvalho out for good. Pitbull remains the Bellator featherweight champion.

Patricio Pitbull def Pedro Carvalho by KO -  Round 1

What’s next after Bellator 252

Bellator 252 was supposed to be a tough event for Pitbull and he just stormed through Pedro Carvalho. Odds makers had the odds stacked for Pitbull, but many analyst thought that Carvalho could give Pitbull a tough fight.

Turns out, it was just another walk through the park for Pitbull. After this he will continue on in the Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix. His next opponent is already decided as he will take on Emmanuel Sanchez (19-4) who won earlier in the evening.

These two men fought back in 2018 with Pitbull winning by unanimous decision. I have no idea who is going to be the man who can take away that crown from Pitbull. He is truly something special.

Battle of the unbeatens at Bellator 252

Tomorrow night Bellator 252 hosts a number of fantastic fights. For obvious reasons, a lot of the attention is on the headliner between Patricio Pitbull and Pedro Carvalho. Aaron Pico is also on the Bellator card tomorrow night.

However, there is a fantastic matchup in the welterweight division which really deserves a lot of attention. The fight pairs two top contenders against each other, and both of these fighters happen to be undefeated entering Bellator 252.

That welterweight contest is between Yaroslav Amosov (24-0) and Logan Storley (11-0). Both of these welterweights are looking to take one step closer to securing a shot at Bellator welterweight champion, Douglas Lima.

Storley will be making his seventh appearance inside of Bellator. Storley has gone through every opponent that the promotion has put in front of him including Joaquin Buckley who became a sensation after his highlight knockout in the UFC.

A six-time state champion in wrestling, Storley has used his dominance on the mat to secure his perfect record. There aren’t many people Storley will enter the cage against who will bring his level of ground skills. However, Amosov is one of those fighters.

Bellator 252 Prediction

If you want to find a fighter who displays dominance, look no further than Yaroslav Amosov. 24 men have stepped across from him and all 24 have lost. Out of those 24 victories, only five of them have gone to the scorecards.

Amosov is a world champion in Sambo. He’s extremely good when it comes to his grappling and he displayed those skills against a top wrestler like Ed Ruth. On top of his skills on the mat, Amosov also has really decent striking.

This is a really tough matchup for a guy like Logan Storley. He’s got incredible wrestling credentials, but he’s going up against a guy who might be better on the mat. On top of that, Amosov is going to have the striking advantage.

When it comes to a prediction for Bellator 252, I’m definitely leaning towards Amosov. I just see there being more ways for him to win this fight. I think Storley will keep it competitive, but Amosov just has too many tools in the toolbox.

Prediction: Yaroslav Amosov by Unanimous Decision

Aaron Pico looks to make it three in a row at Bellator 252

Tomorrow night, Bellator returns and one of their brightest prospects is back in action. Aaron Pico (6-3) returns for his tenth professional bout tomorrow night and he will be taking on John De Jesus (13-8).

Pico’s career has been interesting so far. There was so much hype behind him when Bellator signed him when he was still a teenager. Pico had incredible amateur boxing credentials and was looked at as an Olympic level wrestler.

His credentials along with his natural athleticism had many believing he could be like another Jon Jones. Just someone who could come along and dominate everyone and everything in front of him.

Pico signed with Bellator back in 2014 when he was just 18 years old. It wouldn’t be until 2017 when Pico finally made his debut. With all the cameras on him, Pico failed in his debut losing in just 24 seconds.

It was a come back to earth moment for Pico and Bellator. Since that moment, we have seen a lot of improvement from Pico, but there have been some slip ups. Notably the knockout losses to Henry Corrales and Adam Borics.

The knock on Pico so far in his Bellator career has been his lack of discipline. He is so gifted, however, he wouldn’t always go to his bread and butter. He would get drawn into firefights where his chin was cracked a few good times.

Bellator 252 Preview

Tomorrow night, Pico has the chance to make it three wins in a row inside the Bellator cage. In his last fight against Chris Hatley, Pico really showed off that he can fight with a calm and deliberate pace.

Facing an opponent with knockout power, Pico used his wrestling. While Pico does have good boxing and great speed, his wrestling is where he shines. He completely dominated Hatley on the mat on his way to winning by submission.

Now, his opponent tomorrow night is no slouch. While John De Jesus will come into the cage with a 13-8 record, he has won three in a row. He looked very good at Bellator 244 in his victory over Vladyslav Parubchenko.

De Jesus should provide Pico with another solid test tomorrow night. That being said, I think Pico can win this fight no matter where it takes place. This should be another night where Pico takes a step forward if he fights smart, and I think he will.

Prediction: Aaron Pico by TKO – Round 2

Bellator 252 Preview: Patricio Pitbull – Pedro Carvalho

Patricio Pitbull Freire

Tomorrow night Bellator returns to action. In the main event of the evening, we will see the fight that was supposed to take place just before the pandemic shut things down. This card was hours away before production shut down in March.

Bellator two-division champion, Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (30-4), will be taking on Pedro Carvalho (11-3) in the featherweight division. The fight will be the first fight of 2020 for both of these top featherweights.

The last time we saw Pitbull in the Bellator cage, he successfully defended his featherweight crown against new bantamweight champion, Juan Archuleta. Pitbull is on a five fight winning streak with that last loss coming by way of injury.

Patricio Pitbull is the class of Bellator. The two-division champion is known as one of the best fighters in the world. In fact, he’s most known for his first round knockout of Michael Chandler who was a big recent signing by the UFC.

There’s a reason why Pitbull will enter the cage tomorrow as a big betting favorite. However, the challenger has a ton of hype around him and many feel that he is going to give Patricio Pitbull a run for his money.

Bellator 252 Main Event

Pedro Carvalho will enter the Bellator cage tomorrow night riding a six fight winning streak. He’s really taken off in his last three contests finishing all three of his opponents before hitting the third round.

Carvalho is extremely tall and lengthy for the featherweight division. He will have a six inch height advantage and a five inch reach advantage tomorrow night over the Bellator two-division champion.

When it comes to breaking this fight down, it will all come down to how well Patricio Pitbull can get inside. I think Pitbull is one of the best in the world at overcoming a reach disadvantage. He’s going to need those skills tomorrow night.

We could see a leg kick heavy attack from Pitbull tomorrow. However, I think Carvalho’s straight shots and jabs could give him issues. Carvalho’s skills on the ground and long limbs could make Pitbull’s top game challenging tomorrow night.

Ultimately in the end, I think the fight is going to take place predominately on the feet. I expect Carvalho to shock a lot of people with how well he’s going to do. However, in the end, it’s hard to bet against the champ. I’m expecting a war, but I’m rocking with Pitbull in a close one.

Prediction: Patricio “Pitbull” Freire by Unanimous Decision