Justin Lawrence proved game, but ultimately, A.J. McKee proved why he’s so highly touted, remaining Bellator’s Mr. Perfect.
At Bellator 197 on Friday night in St. Charles, MO, the co-main event saw surging featherweight A.J. McKee take on arguably the toughest test of his career. Opposite him in the Bellator cage, Justin Lawrence. Lawrence, like McKee, once held the hot prospect label, and entered the Family Arena in St. Charles on a two fight win streak.
The action got going early in Bellator 197’s co-main event, with Lawrence executing right body and front kicks, and McKee showing he wasn’t afraid to answer back with his hands. McKee stayed busy on the feet, and caught Lawrence a couple of times, though Lawrence ate the shots without issue. McKee would, however, drop Lawrence briefly with a kick to the body moments later. Lawrence popped right back up, but that kick had a sound to it. The pair would continue to trade throughout the round, with McKee creating space with his jab, and Lawrence showing an impressive chin.
Round one finished with some snapping kicks; round two began with A.J. McKee showing off some creative, flashy striking. McKee began to land with a number of his kicks in the second, both to the legs and body. By the mid-way point, he had Lawrence on his heels. Lawrence appeared to have at least a minor injury to his lead leg, possibly rolling his ankle and leaving him even more vulnerable to leg kicks. McKee went right for it, but Lawrence was far from defenseless, answering back with a counter right. Just prior to the end of the frame, McKee connected with a side kick right to the face of his opponent, but again, Lawrence ate the blow.
Likely down two rounds heading into the third, Lawrence needed to make the third count. However, with a wounded leg, and with McKee looking stellar, it was a tall order. Lawrence proved a game opponent, but by the end of the round, he was bloodied and beaten. A.J. McKee, meanwhile, remained perfect, moving to 11-0.
A.J. McKee def. Justin Lawrence by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)