This Saturday, the Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix will crown a 145lb champion. Patricio ‘Pitbull’ progressed in the tournament enroute to another title defense against the young AJ McKee.
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‘Pitbull’ is one of the top MMA fighters in the world, in or outside of the UFC. AJ ‘Mercenary’ McKee is as close to a prodigy as a young fighter can get. This matchup will shape the sport of MMA more than any previous Bellator matchup has.
‘Pitbull’ has had plenty of the spotlight and now is the time to focus on AJ McKee. There might be 10 fighters in MMA’s history that had high level striking, wrestling and BJJ their 25th birthday. Bellator Featherweight Gran Prix finalist AJ McKee joined that list over a year ago.
For years McKee, declared many times that ‘Pitbull’ was avoiding him and did not want to fight him. But that’s unlikely considering ‘Pitbull’ was massacring former champions and top contenders at the time.
McKee has fought his entire career in Bellator, making his destiny that much more dramatic. His father Antonio McKee fought in Bellator during AJ’s career as well. Everything about Antonio Jr.’s story is feel-good, but MMA is not a feel-good sport. This is the fight business, and someone is going to suffer a heartbreaking defeat on Saturday.
As much as I would love to pretend to know how this matchup will play out, it can’t. I don’t want to read comments full of 11 year olds telling me to “stop the cap”. This is the type of matchup that many predict will be a war, but could easily end with one fighter finishing the other quickly.
As impressive as AJ McKee looks now, he will be more dangerous after winning a title. The confidence he will gain if he finishes Patricio ‘Pitbull’ will make McKee’s skills all the more virulent.
I know most of you have never heard of him, but you need to pay attention. This is an opportunity for you to be a hipster and tell everyone how much you liked McKee, “before it was cool”, the way I do with McGregor… because I did. 60 G’s Baby (I saw that live)!
The Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix is similar to Jon Jones’ first title fight against Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua. Except AJ McKee looks better than Jon Jones did before that fight. What is similar between Jones and AJ’s first title bouts is their opponent.
If, “doing people bad” was a fighting style it would be ‘Shogun’ Rua’s. ‘Shogun’ was a living legend at the time after murderously KO’ing Alistair Overeem and Ricardo Arona in the same night to win the PRIDE FC Middleweight Grand Prix in Osaka, Japan. He TKO’d ‘Rampage’ Jackson in the same tournament.
We saw Jon Jones as an Anderson Silva-type who could wrestle at age 25. Well, AJ McKee is Jon Jones with knockout power. And Saturday he is fighting a Brazilian legend just as intimidating as a prime PRIDE ‘Shogun’ Rua, in ‘Pitbull’.
Starts every morning with an obscene amount of black coffee & a nice long look in the mirror. Always puts him in a good mood. Product of Chicago and SMU that likes to talk sports and drink a lot so that he stays healthy and hydrated.
If you’re reading this, I’ve likely done a tremendous job.
As you were,
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