Is McKee – Pitbull 2 at 155 the fight for Bellator to make? The featherweight champ thinks so

AJ McKee

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.

Is AJ McKee the best featherweight in the world after Bellator 263?

AJ McKee

This past Saturday at Bellator 263, we saw the conclusion of the Featherweight Grand Prix in the main event. The champion Patricio Pitbull (32-5) was looking to defend his title against the undefeated challenger AJ McKee (18-0).

McKee has a superstar quality about him, but many were still picking the Bellator champion heading into Saturday. Patricio Pitbull is the greatest fighter in the promotion’s history and he owns virtually every Bellator record there is to own.

Saturday night was going to tell us just how good AJ McKee is. Well, AJ McKee is not just good, he’s something truly special. McKee dropped Pitbull in the first round at Bellator 263 with a beautiful combination and he finished him with a standing guillotine.

In a fight that was built to be the best versus the best, McKee made it look incredibly easy. It reminded me of when Conor McGregor knocked out Jose Aldo in 13 seconds to become UFC featherweight champion. Just like McGregor, McKee left no doubts at Bellator 263.

Bellator 263 Proved McKee’s Greatness

After his dominant win at Bellator 263 many are wondering if he’s the best in the world regardless of promotion. Over the course of recent history, the UFC champion has been considered to be the best of the best.

However, Bellator has a legit argument with their new featherweight champion. While Patricio Pitbull was a dominant champion, nobody ever considered him to be better than Max Holloway or Alexander Volkanovski.

He was always seen as a step below them, however, McKee is not. I truly believe that McKee is on that elite level with the best that the UFC has to offer. The 26 year old has it all. He has incredible ground skills and he’s developed dangerous striking to go along with it.

Who is the best in the world?

At Bellator 263, he showed off the full package. Now, when everyone is at their absolute best, I still believe in my heart that Max Holloway is the best featherweight on the planet. Yes, he’s lost to Volkanovski twice. However, I do not believe he lost that second fight last year.

The Max Holloway that we saw in January is the best featherweight in the world. While I don’t think McKee is the best in the world, I think he’s right there with those guys. It’s truly a shame that he fights for Bellator in that we won’t be able to see him fight the best of the best.

That said, McKee’s contract is coming up soon. McKee told MMA Junkie that he would like to resign with Bellator if they show him the money. McKee has fought all 18 of his professional fights under the Bellator banner.

However, the UFC is interested. Dana White did come out and say that he would take McKee to lunch making good on a bet McKee made with him when he was a child. McKee told the UFC president that he would become world champion and when that happens, White had to take him to lunch.

White told TSN that he would make good on that bet and also said that when his contract is up, they’d be interested in talking. Time will tell what McKee ends up doing, but make no mistake about it, the new Bellator champion is a star.

What’s next for Patricio Pitbull after Bellator 263 loss?

Patricio Pitbull Freire

This past Saturday at Bellator 263 we saw the conclusion of the Featherweight Grand Prix. Patricio Pitbull (32-5) was defending his featherweight crown against the undefeated phenom AJ McKee (18-0).

This was the one fight that Bellator fans had been waiting for since the Grand Prix started. The two best featherweights that Bellator had to offer were set to battle for the title and one million dollars.

Patricio Pitbull was the popular pick heading into Saturday night. The two-division champion has virtually ever record in the history of Bellator and he’s widely considered to be the best fighter in the history of the promotion.

While Pitbull was both the featherweight and lightweight champion, he was the much smaller man at Bellator 263. McKee looked much bigger and longer and you could see that advantage very early in the fight.

When the fight started, Pitbull was staying patient on the outside. McKee was trying to keep him at range and Pitbull was trying to find his way inside. However, before he could even get started, he got caught.

McKee landed a massive head kick and uppercut that dropped the Bellator champion. When Pitbull got up, McKee locked in a standing guillotine and put Pitbull out.

What’s next after Bellator 263?

Patricio Pitbull had lost before inside the Bellator cage, but Saturday night was different. This was the first time that he was truly finished and the fight wasn’t even close. AJ McKee ran right through Patricio Pitbull.

After that devastating defeat, what’s next for Pitbull? Well, it’s important to remember that he’s still the Bellator lightweight champion. However, he had previously hinted at dropping the lightweight title to allow his brother, Patricky Pitbull, the opportunity to become lightweight champion.

Having just lost to McKee at featherweight, I wonder if that potential plan has changed. I wouldn’t be shocked to see McKee and Pitbull fight again. McKee has teased about going up in weight and he’s said that he wanted to become a two-division Bellator champion.

Ultimately, Scott Coker is going to have a decision to make. I believe that Pitbull is going to want an immediate rematch. Given his legacy with the promotion, I think they’ll give it to him. Question is, will it be a featherweight rematch or a lightweight title fight? Time will tell on this one.

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 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.

Is Bellator’s Patricio Pitbull on the same level as Alexander Volkanovski?

Last weekend at Bellator 255, Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (32-4) choked out Emmanuel Sanchez in the first round of their title fight. The matchup was also the semi-final matchup in Bellator‘s Featherweight Grand Prix.

After the fight, Patricio Pitbull and his management have talked about how he’s the best featherweight in the world. They told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani this week that they are more than willing to take on the UFC champion, Alexander Volkanovksi (22-1).

A huge feather in the cap of Pitbull is his knockout of Michael Chandler. Chandler is getting ready to challenge for the vacant UFC lightweight championship and Pitbull knocked him out in the first round after catching him with a looping hook around the ear.

Granted, the stoppage was premature in my opinion, but nevertheless, that’s how Patricio Pitbull became a two-division Bellator champion. With that said, is Patricio Pitbull on the same level or is he even better than the best the UFC has to offer?

Bellator vs UFC

This is yet another time where we are comparing the two biggest MMA promotions. Is Bellator on the same level as the UFC? 99% of the time the answer to that question is going to be an emphatic no.

However, Patricio Pitbull is a very special fighter and many believe he is one of if not the best featherweight in the world. At the same time, I think it’s very important to remember the competition level here.

Let’s take a look at the last four wins for the UFC champion. Volkanovski has defeated Max Holloway twice, Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes. That is quite astonishing considering how great all three of those fighters are.

The last five wins for the Bellator champion include Emmanuel Sanchez twice, Juan Archuleta, Pedro Carvalho, and Michael Chandler. Archuleta is the bantamweight champion and Carvalho and Sanchez are not on par with UFC competition.

I will give the Bellator champion all the credit in the world for the Chandler win. That is by far the best win of his career. However, I just can’t say that Patricio Pitbull is better or even on the same level as Alexander Volkanovski.

ESPN’s divisional rankings have this one right. They have the Bellator champion in fourth behind Volkanovski, Max Holloway, and Brian Ortega. I think that’s where he should be. I believe he could be a top five fighter in the UFC, but in my opinion, he wouldn’t be the best.

Patricio Pitbull’s next title defense means a lot for him and Bellator

Patricio Pitbull Freire

Last weekend at Bellator 255, Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (32-4) defended his featherweight title against Emmanuel Sanchez (20-5). The fight was a semifinal matchup in Bellator‘s Featherweight Grand Prix, but the title was also on the line.

The two met for the first time back in 2018 and Pitbull walked away with a decision win. Since 2017, Pitbull had been the only man to have defeated Sanchez inside the Bellator cage.

Sanchez made the walk on Friday night having gone 7-1 in his last eight fights. Many, including myself, thought he was going to give Pitbull a run for his money. The first fight was relatively close, but the second fight was anything but.

At Bellator 255, we saw an extremely patient Pitbull. He waited for Sanchez to engage and when he did, Pitbull blasted him with powerful counters. At one point, Sanchez went for a kick and ate a left hook for his troubles.

That left hook sat him down, but he got right back up and engaged. The problem was he went right into the guillotine choke of Bellator‘s two-division champion. Pitbull tightened the choke and put Sanchez to sleep setting up the finale that everyone has been wanting to see.

Bellator’s dream scenario has played out

When Bellator unveiled the Featherweight Grand Prix, fans everywhere wanted to see one matchup in particular. That matchup would feature Patricio Pitbull and the undefeated superstar, AJ McKee (17-0).

Like Patricio Pitbull, McKee dominated his way to the finals of the Grand Prix. McKee has spent his entire career with Bellator and he’s finally getting his shot at the title. The 25 year old is looked at as arguably the best young fighter in the sport.

When these two fighters face off, it’s a massive deal for Bellator. Patricio Pitbull is the greatest fighter to have ever laced up the gloves in Bellator. The two-division champion holds the most wins and he’s the most decorated in terms of championships.

AJ McKee is a homegrown star, but he’s a star that has extremely high aspirations. McKee has been vocal that he’s keeping an eye on the top guys over in the UFC. The Mercenary also said that he only has two fights left on his current Bellator contract.

With that in mind, this fight becomes a big deal for Bellator. If McKee wins, he would be the featherweight champion with only one fight left. McKee has said that if he beats Pitbull, he wants them to rematch at lightweight so he can try to become a two division champion.

While that might be great in theory for Bellator, it’s actually a nightmare scenario. The UFC would likely pry McKee away and he would walk away as an undefeated two-division champion.

Meanwhile, Patricio Pitbull has no desire to leave Bellator. He is the face of the promotion and he just signed a new deal recently. While McKee is the future, it would probably be best for Bellator if Patricio Pitbull walks away victorious when they fight.

Bellator 255 Preview: Patricio Pitbull – Emmanuel Sanchez 2

Patricio Pitbull Freire

Tomorrow night, Bellator will finally return for their first fight night of 2021. In the main event of the evening, two-division champion, Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (31-4) will be defending his featherweight title against Emmanuel Sanchez (20-4).

This matchup is a rematch from their first fight at Bellator 209 back in late 2018. That night, Sanchez was able to push Pitbull hard, but ultimately he couldn’t outwork the great Pitbull and Patricio Pitbull scored a decision win.

This matchup is for the featherweight title, but it’s also a semi-final matchup in the Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix. The winner of this fight will take on the unbeaten AJ McKee in the finals later this year.

Patricio Pitbull is arguably the best fighter in Bellator history. The two-division champion is riding a six-fight win streak that includes a win over UFC lightweight contender, Michael Chandler.

Emmanuel Sanchez seems to be peaking at just the right time. After his failed attempt to defeat Pitbull back in 2018, Sanchez has won three fights in a row. His last win came at Bellator 252 and he looked extremely impressive in a decision win over Daniel Weichel.

Bellator 255 Prediction

Patricio Pitbull is a massive favorite to retain his Bellator featherweight title. I’ve seen some lines creep up to -400 and even as great as Pitbull is, I think those lines are a little off.

Yes, Pitbull won the first matchup, but Emmanuel Sanchez had his moments. Sanchez was able to win rounds against the Bellator champion and I think he’s even better than he was the first time.

Sanchez has very good cardio, offensive wrestling, and his boxing has looked really good as of late. I’m a big fan of his straight right hand. If he’s aggressive tomorrow night, he will stay in the fight just with his activity.

It’s hard to find a weakness in the game of the two-division Bellator champion. Pitbull is good on the ground and he has dynamite in his hands. The champion is dangerous everywhere, but we have seen him struggle if a wrestler can take him down and hold him.

A key for Sanchez tomorrow night could be a high striking pace and some timely takedowns. If he can do that, I think he can pull the upset at Bellator 255. However, that’s an extremely tall order.

Patricio Pitbull is one of the best fighters in the world regardless of promotion. There’s a reason he’s the two-division Bellator champion and I think he narrowly holds onto the featherweight title tomorrow night. However, I’m expecting a war between these two.

Prediction: Patricio Pitbull by Unanimous Decision

Bellator books Patricio Pitbull – Emmanuel Sanchez 2

Patricio Pitbull Freire

Bellator MMA officially announced the date for their final semi-final matchup in their Featherweight Grand Prix. The promotion announced today that Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (31-4) will defend his featherweight championship against Emmanuel Sanchez (20-4) on April 2nd.

This matchup had already been predetermined with the Grand Prix bracket, however, we finally have a date for this matchup. This title fight will headline Bellator‘s first event back in 2021.

The winner of this matchup will carry the featherweight title into the Grand Prix finale to face AJ McKee. These two men have history and they faced off back in 2018 at Bellator 209.

That night, Patricio Pitbull successfully defended his featherweight title by winning a unanimous decision. Pitbull hasn’t lost inside the Bellator cage since 2016 when he lost to Benson Henderson due to a leg injury.

If you want to take out that loss, nobody has defeated Pitbull since Daniel Straus did it in 2015. Pitbull is widely considered to be the best fighter that Bellator has ever had and his two world championships show off his greatness. However, he’s in for a tough matchup on April 2nd.

Bellator Featherweight Title Fight

There are so many things that Emmanuel Sanchez has going for him heading into Bellator 255. First and foremost, he’s incredible tough and durable. He’s not going to back away and be intimidated by the challenge of facing Patricio Pitbull.

Another thing that he has going for him is that he already has experience facing Pitbull. Yes, he lost the first fight by decision. However, it’s usually easier for the loser of the first fight to prepare for the rematch than the winner.

Nobody is going to be expecting Sanchez to walk out of Bellator 255 the featherweight champion. That’s another big advantage for the challenger. All of the pressure in this fight is on Patricio Pitbull.

Pitbull is the defending champion and he’s expected to win to setup the superfight with AJ McKee. McKee already did his part and now Pitbull has to take care of business. There is zero pressure on the shoulders of Sanchez. This should be a fantastic matchup on April 2nd.