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.

What’s next for Benson Henderson after Bellator 253?

Benson Henderson

This past week at Bellator 253, former lightweight world champion, Benson Henderson (28-10), moved up to the welterweight division. Henderson moved up to take on Jason Jackson in what was his second fight in Bellator‘s welterweight division.

Benson Henderson fought in the welterweight division when he first jumped to Bellator and was dominated. Now to his credit, he was successful in his final two UFC fights which both came at welterweight.

After his failed attempt in Bellator, Henderson decided to move back to his natural weight at 155. Henderson is 5-3 in his eight fights at lightweight in Bellator with two of those losses coming to Michael Chandler.

Back in August, Henderson was knocked out by Michael Chandler in what turned out to be Chandler’s final fight with Bellator. That loss had snapped a four fight winning streak for the former world champion.

After the loss, Henderson made the interesting decision to move up to welterweight to fight Jackson. Henderson looked like the much smaller man at Bellator 253. There was a massive size discrepancy between the two and it played out in the fight.

Henderson appeared to be out of reach all night and he was clearly not as strong in the grappling exchanges. He lost all three rounds on the judges scorecards. After the fight, Scott Coker said he’d like Henderson to return to lightweight. 

What’s next after Bellator 253?

I completely agree with Coker in that Henderson needs to return to lightweight. Bellator doesn’t need to be offering Henderson anymore fights at welterweight seeing as he’s 0-2 in that weight class and both fights were not close.

Again, Henderson had won four in a row prior to the Chandler fight. Had Henderson won that fight against Chandler, he would have likely earned a shot at the Bellator lightweight championship.

I think the promotion should book him against one of the top contenders at 155. If he looks impressive in his next fight at lightweight, you could make the argument that he should fight Patricio Pitbull again. Henderson does have a win over the Bellator champ but it did come via injury.

AJ McKee remains perfect at Bellator 253

AJ McKee

Tonight, Bellator MMA returned with the continuation of their Featherweight Grand Prix. In the main event of the evening, AJ McKee (16-0) was looking to stay undefeated as he fought former bantamweight champion, Darrion Caldwell (15-3).

Caldwell was coming into tonight off back to back wins since moving up to featherweight. After Caldwell lost his bantamweight crown at Bellator 222, he decided he needed a little change of scenery so he decided to chase on million dollars in the Grand Prix.

McKee on the other hand is one of the hottest prospects in MMA. He’s not just the talk of Bellator, but the entire MMA community is buzzing about AJ McKee. The son of a former fighter, McKee was looking to punch his ticket to the Bellator Grand Prix finals tonight.

For the first time in his Bellator career, McKee would be taking on a fighter who on paper was a better wrestler. Caldwell was a national champion wrestler and we saw those wrestling skills right away in the main event.

Caldwell was able to land a takedown early on in the first round. However, McKee was extremely active from his back. Then out of no where, McKee locks up a neck crank from the bottom and Caldwell is forced to tap very early into the first round. Incredible performance by McKee.

AJ McKee defeats Darrion Caldwell by Submission (Neck Crank) – Round 1

What’s next after Bellator 253?

If you were not impressed with AJ McKee before Bellator 253, you have to be now. The undefeated phenom continued his dominance but this time he did it over a former world champion.

McKee is the total package and he’s going to be a nightmare for anyone in Bellator. He’s got incredibly slick striking and he is insanely creative in all aspects. That submission tonight truly came out of no where.

After tonight, McKee advances to the finals of the Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix. He will wait for the champion, Patricio Pitbull, to face Emmanuel Sanchez which is likely going to take place early next year.

Bellator 253 Preview: AJ McKee – Darrion Caldwell

AJ McKee

Bellator returns tomorrow night with the continuation of their featherweight grand prix. Tomorrow night’s headliner is the first semi-final matchup where the undefeated phenom, AJ McKee (16-0), will take on former champion, Darrion Caldwell (15-3).

Caldwell is the former Bellator bantamweight champion of the world. When he was crowned the champion at 135 pounds, Caldwell had only lost one fight in his career to Joe Taimanglo. However, he immediately avenged that one loss in his next fight.

Caldwell looked poised to have a long reign in the Bellator bantamweight division until he ran into Kyoji Horiguchi. Caldwell fought Horiguchi over in Rizin and lost by submission. Bellator then brought Horiguchi over to Bellator to face Caldwell in a rematch.

That fight went the distance, but the result was the same. After suffering back to back losses, Caldwell decided to move up to featherweight. He’s looked dominant at 145 winning both of his first two matchups.

AJ McKee is such a dynamic talent for Bellator. The undefeated McKee is dangerous wherever the fight goes. He’s got slick submissions on the ground and he has tremendous kickboxing skills on the feet.

Out of his 16 professional wins, only five have gone the distance. However, only one fight in his last five has gone to the judges scorecards. In his last four finishes, McKee has two first round knockouts and two third round submissions. Showing off his diverse skillset.

Bellator 253 Prediction

The odds have been drastically shifting for the Bellator 253 main event. When the odds first opened, they were extremely even. However, there are some lines that are showing McKee upwards towards a -300 favorite.

I think McKee should be the betting favorite, but those odds are off in my opinion. I think this fight is going to be very close. Both of these men have such well rounded games that it will look like a chess match at times.

I think we will learn a lot from the striking in the first round. To me it’s going to come down to who is more efficient and quick with their shots in this one. I think Caldwell is so good, but I think McKee is just a little better wherever the fight goes. It’s close, but I think McKee stays perfect.

Prediction: AJ McKee by Unanimous Decision

Bellator books Benson Henderson – Jason Jackson

Benson Henderson

Bellator has booked it’s co-main event for next weekend’s card. First reported by MMA Fighting and confirmed from promotion officials, Benson Henderson (28-9) will be returning to the welterweight division to take on Jason Jackson (12-4).

The fight being booked for 11/19 could be a reason for Henderson returning to the welterweight division. It is not known yet if the move is a permanent one for the former UFC lightweight champion.

Henderson is looking to bounce back after his last performance. Henderson last fought in August where he took on Michael Chandler. Entering that fight, Henderson had won four fights in a row. Many believed if he won, he would be getting a lightweight title shot.

However, Chandler went on to knock Henderson out in the first round. It was a big setback for the former world champion. Chandler went on to sign with the UFC while Henderson is looking to regroup in Bellator. That regrouping starts next weekend at Bellator 253.

Bellator 253

This fight is a golden opportunity for Jason Jackson. Jackson first came onto the public scene when he appeared on Dana White’s Contender Series. That night, Jackson lost, but since, he’s been fighting between Bellator and LFA.

In his last six fights, Jackson has only lost once. That loss was a split decision loss to Ed Ruth inside the Bellator cage. Many believe that Jackson actually won that fight. This is the biggest opponent from a name perspective that Jackson has fought in his career.

If Jackson is able to pickup the victory at Bellator 253, he could be inching closer to a welterweight title shot. He will likely need another victory or two after Bellator 253, but there will be no questioning the contender status of Jason Jackson if he’s able to get the victory.

Both of these men have a lot to gain next weekend. For Henderson, he has the opportunity to right the ship and get back on track after that tough loss. For Jackson, he has the chance to pickup the biggest victory of his career.