AJ McKee finishes Patricio Pitbull in the first at Bellator 263

AJ McKee

In the headliner of Bellator 263, we saw the featherweight title fight we’ve been waiting on. The final match of the Featherweight Grand Prix that featured a clash between Bellator champion Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (32-4) and AJ McKee (17-0).

When Bellator announced that they would be doing a Featherweight Grand Prix, fans started dreaming of the potential fight between Patricio Pitbull and AJ McKee.

Pitbull is the greatest fighter in the history of Bellator. The two-division champion has fought with the promotion most of his career and holds virtually every record. Coming into this fight tonight, he’s won seven in a row including back-to-back first round finishes.

Standing across from Pitbull at Bellator 263 is AJ McKee. McKee has been brought up by the promotion have his first professional fight with Bellator back in 2015. He’s been bread to be a superstar and the undefeated McKee had his chance to take the crown tonight.

Bellator 263 Recap

Round 1

The Bellator 263 main event started with a touch of the gloves. McKee opens up with a side kick to the lead leg of Patricio Pitbull. Another side kick lands for McKee. McKee holding the center as he lands another leg kick.

Pitbull starts bouncing as he seems to be gauging the challenger. Powerful kick lands for Patricio Pitbull. 90 seconds in and not a lot of action so far as both men appearing to feeling the other out.

McKee rocks Patricio Pitbull badly on the feet with a head kick. A big combination and Pitbull goes down. McKee thinks it’s over and he backs away, but the referee didn’t stop the fight.

McKee goes back in and he locks in a guillotine choke. It’s deep and Pitbull tries to fight it. However, he goes completely out and it’s over. AJ McKee is officially the Bellator featherweight champion.

AJ McKee def. Patricio Pitbull by Submission (Guillotine Choke) – Round 1

Bellator 263 Preview: Patricio Pitbull – AJ McKee

Patricio Pitbull Freire

Tomorrow night in the headliner of Bellator 263, we are going to see the featherweight title fight we’ve been waiting on. The final match of the Featherweight Grand Prix features a clash between Bellator champion Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (32-4) and AJ McKee (17-0).

This is such a massive fight for Bellator and they know it to. This is one of the few times where Bellator will be going head-to-head with the UFC as the UFC is back tomorrow night with UFC Vegas 33.

However, many eyes are going to be on Bellator 263. When the promotion announced that they would be doing a Featherweight Grand Prix, fans started dreaming of the potential fight between Patricio Pitbull and AJ McKee.

Pitbull is the greatest fighter in the history of Bellator. The two-division champion has fought with the promotion most of his career and holds virtually every record. Coming into this fight tomorrow, he’s won seven in a row including back-to-back first round finishes.

Standing across from Pitbull at Bellator 263 is AJ McKee. McKee has been brought up by the promotion have his first professional fight with Bellator back in 2015. He’s been bread to be a superstar and the undefeated McKee has his chance to take the crown tomorrow night.

Bellator 263 Preview

If I’m being completely transparent, I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited for a Bellator event. You have the greatest of all time in that promotion taking on the guy who looks like he can become a massive superstar in the sport.

It’s going to be a tremendous fight to see. Now, when breaking down the Bellator 263 main event, there’s going to be a few things I’m watching for. One thing is the size and reach of AJ McKee.

McKee is much longer and taller that Pitbull. He uses his length well on the feet and his length allows him to be incredibly slick on the ground. I could see him giving Pitbull some problems with his length.

On the other hand, the wrestling and counter striking of Pitbull can give McKee issues at Bellator 263. Pitbull is sensational on the ground and he has very strong wrestling. He has the skills to ground McKee and keep him there without getting submitted.

I’ve really gone back-and-forth over this prediction. I think if you’re looking for a safe bet, you pick Patricio Pitbull in this spot. However, my gut keeps telling me that McKee’s star will shine brighter even more tomorrow night. Call me a little crazy, but I’m picking the challenger tomorrow night.

Prediction: AJ McKee by Submission (Triangle Choke) – 3rd Round

Bellator books Michael ‘Venom’ Page – Douglas Lima 2

Bellator MMA announced today that they have finalized a welterweight rematch that fans have been waiting on. The promotion announced that they have finalized the matchup between Michael “Venom” Page (19-1) and Douglas Lima (32-9).

The fight will take place at Bellator 267 on October 1st. The fight will take place in Page’s hometown of London and the rematch will headline the card. This rematch is a couple of years in the making after the two first fought back in 2019.

At Bellator 221, these two met for the first time. Page was doing his thing and showing off a lot of flashy striking. However, during one his entries, Lima took his footing and planted Page. When Page was trying to get up, he was caught with a perfect shot and Lima put him out cold.

That is still the only loss in Page’s professional career. The striker has been saying that Bellator needed to run this back for the last two years and now they finally are. However, the Bellator welterweight title won’t be on the line after Lima lost the title last month.

Bellator 267

While Douglas Lima won back at Bellator 221, he’s going to be the one coming into this fight with no momentum. When these two fight in October, Lima will be carrying a two-fight losing streak and neither fight was particularly competitive.

Meanwhile, Page is 5-0 with four knockouts since the first time these two met. Most recently, Page fought back in May when he broke the nose of Derek Anderson and stopped him after the first round. Despite Lima having won the first fight, Page will likely be the betting favorite at Bellator 267.

These two men were destined to fight again and I can’t wait to see it. Page has long talked about his desire to move over to the UFC once he completes everything he needs to in Bellator. The two things he wanted to do were avenge the loss to Lima and win the Bellator title. He gets his chance at the first one in October.

Bellator 262 Preview

Tonight, Bellator makes it’s return for their 262nd show. In the main event of the evening we will see a battle for the women’s flyweight title. The undefeated champion Juliana Velasquez (11-0) will defend for the first time against top contender Denise Kielholtz (6-2).

As mentioned, this will be the first title defense for Juliana Velasquez. In her last fight at Bellator 254, the Brazilian flyweight defeated Ilima-Lei Macfarlane to capture the Bellator flyweight title.

So far, Velasquez is a perfect 6-0 inside of Bellator. She possesses great all-around skills, but she’s going to need to lean on her grappling and pressure tomorrow night. Standing across from her is former professional kickboxer Denise Kielholtz.

Kielholtz has over 40 professional kickboxing wins and she scored a beautiful first round knockout in her last performance at Bellator 247. She also has good skills on the ground as she has three submissions.

When it comes to Bellator 262, I think were going to see a lot of pressure from Velasquez. Do not expect her to play the range game with a striker like Kielholtz. This might turn into a slower and grueling fight, but I think Velasquez gets it done by decision.

Bellator 262 Co-Main Event

In the co-main event of Bellator 262 we will see a heavyweight battle. Veteran Matt Mitrione (13-8, 1 NC) is back to take on rising contender Tyrell Fortune (10-1, 1 NC). At 43 years old, we might be nearing the end for Matt Mitrione.

We were first introduced to “Meathead” back on The Ultimate Fighter in 2010. At that point, Mitrione had never fought professional. His entire career has been spent between the UFC and Bellator.

Back in 2016, Mitrione joined Bellator and got off to a hot start. He won his first four fights which included a first round knockout of Fedor Emelianenko. However, since then, he’s just 0-3, 1 NC and he hasn’t looked good. He’s going to have his hands full tomorrow night.

Standing in the way of Mitrione at Bellator 262 is Tyrell Fortune. Fortune was looked at as the top Bellator heavyweight prospect until he was knocked out by Tim Johnson. However, he’s bounced back nicely going 2-0, 1 NC since the loss.

Tomorrow night, I’m expecting a showcase for Fortune. Mitrione just isn’t the same guy and I don’t think he’s going to stop the takedowns of Fortune. I’m expecting a grind-out performance by Fortune on his way to picking up a second or third round TKO.

Bellator 261 Preview: Who will become interim heavyweight champion?

Tonight Bellator is back and the interim heavyweight title is on the line. In the main event, the promotion will hand an interim title to either Tim Johnson (15-6) or Valentin Moldavsky (10-1).

Bellator already has a heavyweight champion in Ryan Bader (28-6, 1 NC). However, Bader hasn’t defended his heavyweight title since Bellator 226 back in 2019. Bader is currently in the light heavyweight Grand Prix with no ETA on his next heavyweight fight.

With that in mind, the promotion has decided to keep things moving in their heavyweight division. Who would have thought back in 2019 that Tim Johnson would be fighting for a Bellator heavyweight title?

Johnson made his Bellator debut back in 2018 and was knocked out in the first round of his first two fights. However, 2020 was a turnaround year for Johnson. Johnson stopped Tyrell Fortune and Matt Mitrione before getting a rematch with Cheick Kongo.

Kongo had knocked him out in their first fight, but the second fight was much different. At Bellator 248, Johnson picked up a split decision win. With three straight wins, Johnson has been put in this headliner, but he’ll have his hands full tonight.

Bellator 261

Standing across from Tim Johnson at Bellator 261 will be Valentin Moldavsky. Moldavsky has been perfect since he joined the promotion. The Russian made his Bellator debut back in 2017. Since then, he’s gone a perfect 5-0.

Moldavsky trains under Fedor Emelianenko and alongside the current Bellator light heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov. Fedor has built himself quite the team and Moldavsky is looking to become the team’s next world champion.

If you were to ask me two years ago who’d win this Bellator 261 main event, I wouldn’t have given it any thought. I would have said Moldavsky without thinking twice. However, Tim Johnson’s 2020 has made me rethink everything.

He’s shown incredible toughness and grit on his way to winning three fights in a row. However, I don’t think he picks up his fourth tonight. I think we see another Russian champion crowned tonight.

Prediction: Valentin Moldavsky by TKO – Round 3

Fedor Emelianenko to make his Bellator return later this year (Report)

Fedor Emelianenko

One of the greatest fighters of all time will be returning to the Bellator cage later this year. Ariel Helwani was the first to report today that Fedor Emelianenko (39-6, 1 NC) will be returning to action in October.

According to Helwani, there is a press conference tomorrow at 11 AM ET to announce the Bellator return of Fedor. At this time, there is no opponent set for the legend’s return, but the promotion is working on a fight for Fedor now.

We have not seen Fedor since Bellator 237. That night, he took on Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in the main event. Emelianenko was able to secure a first round TKO finish just halfway through the opening frame in his last performance.

Overall, that brought Emelianenko’s record to 3-2 inside the Bellator cage. Scott Coker has been hinting that Fedor’s next fight would be his retirement fight. The promotion wanted to do a big event in Russia with a full audience.

Of course, the pandemic has thrown everything off. Emelianenko has not fought since December of 2019 and he will be 45 years old by the time he makes his next Bellator walk in October.

Bellator’s Plans

There are several options for Bellator in terms of opponents. A couple of options off the top of my head would be guys like Cheick Kongo and Josh Barnett. However, there are a number of heavyweights that I’m sure would be willing to fight Fedor Emelianenko.

One thing we should all be thankful for is that Emelianenko is healthy and ready to fight again. Earlier this year, Emelianenko was hospitalized due to COVID-19. Some fighters have been hit with COVID worse than others and Emelianenko had a relatively severe case.

However, the Bellator heavyweight is healthy and ready to go for his October return. We should know more tomorrow at the press-conference, but my guess is that this will be his final fight of his career.

It’s been an incredible career for Fedor Emelianenko. At one time, he was considered to be the best in the world and the greatest heavyweight of all time. His success in Pride was unmatched, but he’s never really endured the same success in the US.

While fighting for Strikeforce and Bellator, the all time great has a record of just 4-5. Now, he did have five straight wins with other promotions, but he hasn’t seen a ton of success in the US. No matter who he fights, there will be a lot of fans watching whenever Fedor makes the walk again.

Bellator books Grand Prix final between Patricio Pitbull and AJ McKee

Patricio Pitbull Freire

The fight Bellator fans have been waiting for has been booked. MMA Fighting was the first to report this evening that the promotion has finalized the featherweight Grand Prix finale between the champion Patricio ‘Pitbull’ Freire (32-4) and AJ McKee (17-0).

The Bellator Grand Prix finals is set for July 30th. If you’re a die-hard Bellator fan, this is the dream fight you’ve been waiting on. AJ McKee is the single biggest threat to Patricio Pitbull’s reign over the featherweight division.

McKee is perfect in his professional career and he’s fought all 17 fights under the Bellator banner. He’s developing into the promotion’s next star and he has his eyes set on taking out the most decorated fighter in the promotion’s history.

What makes AJ McKee so special is how good he is wherever the fight goes. He’s great on the feet, but he’s electric on the mat. In his last performance, he pulled off the most unique submission I’ve seen in some time against Darrion Caldwell at Bellator 253.

It was McKee’s third straight finish and his fifth finish in his last five fights. He’s riding a ton of momentum heading into the Bellator Grand Prix finals. If anyone is going to take Pitbull’s title, it’s going to be McKee.

Tough test for the Bellator champion

That said, it’s going to be incredibly tough taking that title away from Patricio Pitbull. Pitbull is riding a seven-fight win streak and he’s finished his last two opponents in the first round. Patricio Pitbull is both the Bellator lightweight and featherweight champion.

The most decorated and accomplished fighter in Bellator history is Patricio Pitbull. He’s been fighting with the promotion since 2010 and he holds victories over the likes of Michael Chandler and Juan Archuleta.

Pitbull has 23 finishes over the course of his career. The last time we saw Pitbull was at Bellator 255. He took on Emmanuel Sanchez in a rematch from 2018. In 2018, Sanchez went the distance with Pitbull.

However, this year, he couldn’t even make it a round. Pitbull made a massive statement as he retained his title. He’s looked better than ever recently and he looks up to stopping the hype train of AJ McKee. These two fighters both look unstoppable right now and someone has to lose. I can’t wait for July 30th.

Bellator 260 Preview: Douglas Lima – Yaroslav Amosov

Tomorrow night in the headliner of Bellator 260, the welterweight title is on the line. Welterweight champion Douglas Lima (32-8) is back to defend his title against the undefeated top contender Yaroslav Amosov (25-0).

Lima is actually looking to bounce back after his last performance. The welterweight champion moved up to middleweight last October at Bellator 250 to challenge the middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi.

While Lima had his moments in that fight, he lost by unanimous decision. That loss snapped the three-fight win streak that Lima was on that led him to the Bellator welterweight championship. His last fight at welterweight came at Bellator 232 when he defeated Rory MacDonald.

Standing across from Lima tomorrow night is Yaroslav Amosov. Amosov has obviously been perfect for his entire professional career, but he’s really stood out since joining Bellator back in 2018.

Since making his debut with the promotion, Amosov has gone an impressive 6-0. In his last fight at Bellator 252 in November, Amosov took on the tough Logan Storley. It was a grueling back-and-forth fight, but ultimately Amosov walked away with a split decision and a welterweight title shot.

Bellator 260 Prediction

I’m so intrigued by this Bellator 260 main event and I’m expecting a very competitive fight. For Amosov, it’s really no secret as to what he’s going to do. I’m looking for Amosov to immediately pressure Lima when the fight starts.

If Amosov is going to become welterweight champion tomorrow night, it’s going to be through his grappling and activity. In Douglas Lima’s last fight, he was a bit too passive and it allowed Gegard Mousasi to get way out ahead on the scorecards.

If Lima wants to keep his title tomorrow night, he’s going to have to engage with Amosov. One big concern I have about Amosov is his cardio. We saw him completely exhausted at the end of his fight with Storley at Bellator 252.

That was only a three-round fight and if he gets that tired again, I think he’s going to be in massive trouble. I think the first half of this fight is going to favor Amosov, but I think Lima comes on strong late. My prediction is that Amosov will get too tired and Lima was score a championship round TKO to retain his Bellator crown.

Prediction: Douglas Lima by TKO – Round 4

Aaron Pico looks to continue his rise to the top at Bellator 260

Tomorrow night on the main card of Bellator 260, Aaron Pico (7-3) will be making the walk for the 11th time in his professional career. Standing in his way is going to be the tough Aiden Lee (9-4).

Pico comes into the bout as Bellator‘s sixth ranked featherweight while Aiden Lee is just outside the top ten. Aaron Pico will be looking to pick up his fourth consecutive win which would match his longest winning streak of his career.

The last time we saw Pico was at Bellator 252 when he flatlined John de Jesus with a massive overhand right. It seems crazy that we are still only four years into the professional career of Aaron Pico and he’s still only 24 years old.

Bellator signed Pico before he had any professional fighting experience. Pico had been labeled as the future of MMA given his Olympic-Caliber wrestling and his skills in boxing. The promotion rushed him right in against Zach Freeman at Bellator 180 and Pico promptly lost in 24 seconds.

It was a serious back to reality moment for the top prospect. However, Pico would bounce back and win four straight before suffering back-to-back knockout losses. Those losses changed the career of Aaron Pico and made him reevaluate the way he was fighting in Bellator.

Bellator 260

Pico switched to training at Jackson-Wink full time and he changed the way he was fighting. In his losses, Pico was easily drawn into wars and seemed to fall in love with his boxing. Keep in mind, his top skill is his wrestling.

Over this three-fight win streak, Pico has gone back to his routes. He’s mixed in his wrestling which makes his hands look even better. The results have been three straight finishes and Pico is only a win or two away from challenging for a Bellator title.

Tomorrow night isn’t going to be easy for Pico. Aiden Lee has won back-to-back fights in Bellator after dropping his debut with the promotion. In nine professional wins, Lee has submitted five opponents and knocked out two.

This is going to be another tough test for Pico, but it’s one that I believe he will pass. I think the combination of speed, power, athleticism, and technique will win out here. Win or lose, Pico has never gone the distance and I don’t expect that trend to break at Bellator 260.

Prediction: Aaron Pico by TKO – Round 2

Michael “Venom” Page eying a move to the UFC

One of Bellator MMA’s biggest stars is eyeing his exit to jump over to the UFC. Michael “Venom” Page (19-1) has been fighting for Bellator since 2014 and that’s where he’s blossomed into a star of the sport.

MVP is known for his funky yet elite striking that often bewilders opponents. Page has won five fights in a row and four of them have come via knockout or TKO. Whenever MVP fights, there are fans that will tune in to watch.

MVP has always been a loyal Bellator fighter, but he’s always had the UFC in mind. Page told Michael Bisping this week that the UFC was the reason he got into MMA and he believes they are the reason the majority of athletes decide to train in MMA.

While the UFC has always been Page’s inspiration, they’ve yet to be a destination for the English striker. However, Page is eyeing a potential move to the UFC once he’s finished up with some business in Bellator.

The main thing for Page is winning the Bellator welterweight title. His lone career loss came against Douglas Lima and he wants to get that back. If he can get that back and win the Bellator title, he will be ready to jump to the UFC.

MVP in the UFC?

Page told Bisping this week, “Yes, I enjoy Bellator and I enjoy where I’m at. But, I definitely feel like I need to touch the UFC at some point. There’s some great matchups to be made over there… I don’t know when, but I definitely see myself going there.”

It’s pretty clear that Page wants to make the move to the UFC once he accomplishes his goals with Bellator. MVP stated that he wants to challenge himself and seemed to clearly indicate that the biggest challenges were in the UFC.

That was one of the main deciding factors when Michael Chandler decided to make the jump last year. As of right now, I believe that MVP will be getting the winner of the Douglas Lima – Yaroslav Amosov title fight that’s in a few weeks.

If MVP grabs the Bellator title, it will just be a matter of time before we see him venture over to the UFC. To me, MVP inside the octagon is a when and not an if at this point.