It’s been about one month since Bellator 263 and the conclusion of the Featherweight Grand Prix. In the finals, AJ McKee (18-0) took on arguably the greatest fighter in Bellator in history in Patricio Pitbull (32-5).
Pitbull was the Bellator featherweight and lightweight champion entering the contest. He hadn’t lost at featherweight since his 2015 decision loss to Daniel Straus. A loss that Pitbull avenged a year and a half later.
AJ McKee has been the heralded prospect of Bellator since he made his promotional debut. McKee had spent all 17 of his professional fights fighting under the Bellator banner. After years of winning and improving, this was finally his shot.
McKee didn’t let the moment slip away. While many were betting on the long-reigning champion to get it done, McKee was ready to show the world that he’s the best that the promotion has to offer.
The fight seemingly ended before it even started. Just under two minutes into the Bellator 263 headliner, McKee landed a vicious head kick and combination that seemingly had Pitbull out. McKee then put Pitbull in a standing guillotine to choke him out and become the new featherweight champion.
What will Bellator do with McKee next?
When it comes to Bellator, AJ McKee is on top of the world. He’s the best the promotion has to offer, he has star power, and he’s undefeated. The real question is what’s next for the featherweight champion.
McKee spoke with Ariel Helwani this week and was honest about the fact that he didn’t know. He did say that he believes the fight to make is him facing off against Patricio Pitbull for the lightweight title.
However, at this time, it doesn’t appear that Bellator is leaning in that direction. There are a few options for the promotion. One option would be to have the two run things back at featherweight.
This is certainly not what McKee wants, but it is what Pitbull wants. Pitbull has put in the time with Bellator to gain good favor with the promotion. It’s possible they grant him a rematch at 145 pounds.
Another possibility is that McKee defends his featherweight title against top contender Mads Burnell (16-3). Burnell would give McKee a new look and he’s currently riding a seven-fight win streak.
The other option would be to have McKee take a fight at lightweight, but not against Pitbull. This would give the Bellator champion a taste of 155 pounds without actually putting him in there with the champion. I believe this is the least likely of the three scenarios.
Based on the whispers, my guess is that McKee will defends his 145 pounds title next. If I had to make a prediction, I think Burnell gets the nod. I don’t believe Bellator is doing the immediate rematch, and a win for McKee and another win for Pitbull would make their rematch even bigger regardless of what weight class it’s in.