Earning the fourteenth straight win in his undefeated career on Saturday, featherweight AJ McKee continued his rise, even if the action was a bit lacking against Pat Curran.
If A.J. McKee can still be considered a prospect with a 13-0 record in Bellator MMA, then Saturday night at Bellator 221 was his greatest opportunity to shake that label. Tasked with taking on former featherweight champ Pat Curran, returning for his first fight since 2017, McKee was looking to continue his winning ways, and make a statement that he was ready to take on 145lb champ Patricio Pitbull.
Undefeated. Unyielding. Uncompromising. There’s a lot of ways to describe AJ McKee’s career in the cage to date. Few fighters make it to double digits undefeated.
The streak continued on Saturday in Chicago. But it wasn’t one of McKee’s more memorable affairs.
McKee opened with a front kick that fanned, then fired off a slick looking spinning kick that also hit air. Through the opening minute, neither man had actually connected until a lower body kick from McKee hit home. Curran would later land his own kick; McKee would fire one upstairs, which Curran blocked.
Two minutes in, and McKee opted to take the fight down, planting Curran on his back. The fight wouldn’t stay down for long, however. On the feet, McKee used kicks to keep his opponent on the outside, but that resulted in a lack of activity as Curran struggled to find a way in. McKee would explode into a flurry of strikes late in the round, but Curran escaped no worse for the wear.
Round two saw Curran adjust, coming out firing kicks and looking a little more energetic. McKee stuck to his original game plan early in the frame, using his length well. Once again, the end result was a lack of action, with the crowd voicing their displeasure. When something did land, it was usually McKee, usually single strikes. However with ninety seconds left in the round, Curran shot in for a takedown, driving through to completion. McKee was very active off his back, a spot he hadn’t spent much time in during this career to date.
Whether that takedown did enough to steal the round for Curran was questionable. There was still a good chance he’d need a finish, but it was McKee who was more active early in the third. Curran was on the outside more often than not, with McKee firing off leg kicks. He tried to shoot in as he had in the second, but McKee sprawled. Curran finished the sequence with a knee, but McKee continued to execute his game plan. Toward the end of the round, they went to the ground, McKee on top. It ended shortly after, with McKee clearly the winner in a rather tepid affair
AJ McKee def. Pat Curran by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)