Bellator 187 touched down in Dublin, Ireland on Friday, and while a Notorious Irish fighter stole the spotlight, headliner A.J. McKee got the job done in the main event.
Perched atop the card at Bellator 187 on Friday was a featherweight battle between A.J. McKee and Brian Moore. The fight served as a replacement when James Gallagher, the original headliner, was forced off the card. And while it wasn’t the fight many fans wanted, it wasn’t short on action.
Back in the cage after picking up a unanimous decision win against Blair Tugman at Bellator 182, McKee was looking to build on his undefeated record. Moore, for his part, was hoping to build on a Bellator 177 win over Michael Horejsi. Both were fighting in the shadow of Conor McGregor, who jumped into the cage earlier in the evening and sparked a confrontation with ref Marc Goddard.
When action got underway, McKee immediately launched a high kick against Moore that was blocked. His speed was on display, but Moore was far from flat-footed. McKee caught Moore with a hook over the top roughly thirty seconds in that briefly dropped him, but he would recover. Moore would continue to press forward, firing off a couple of combinations that at times found their target. McKee, however, continued to show the speed advantage, and displayed excellent timing. Moore would look for a takedown off the clinch along the cage at the halfway point, only to find himself trapped in a standing guillotine. McKee would earn a takedown off that attempt, but Moore would escape and they’re reset in the center of the cage.
Moore would then catch McKee with a couple of shots that forced the American to opt for a takedown attempt. He’d press Moore against the fence and finish the double leg to get the fight down. Not before, however, eating some hard elbows from Moore that opened him up.
Early in round two, Moore pressed the attack with McKee circling out of the danger zone. He’d shoot a single, which was stuffed. The side of McKee’s right eye continued to leak blood. Moore was the more active fighter through the first two minutes; McKee would mix up his attack, adding leg kicks, knees to the body, and continuing to look for a takedown, which was again stuffed. A spinning backfist by McKee also missed. Moore continued backing the American up. He’d look for a takedown of his own, but was denied. Back in the middle, the fight opened up with the pair trading punches. By round’s end, the two were bloodied, bruised, and embroiled in an entertaining war.
Heading into the third it was anyone’s fight, and it was McKee who caught Moore right off the bell. McKee then took the back, sinking in a hook and looking for a rear-naked choke. While he didn’t have proper positioning, he was still able to choke out Moore, without hooks, an impressive feat.
A.J. McKee def. Brian Moore by submission (rear-naked choke), Round 3, 0:42