While father Antonio didn’t want him following in his footsteps, A.J. McKee was always going to be a fighter — or a mercenary, he told us ahead of Bellator 228.
Los Angeles, CA — A.J. McKee is a California kid, fighting at home for a change at Bellator 228 this weekend. It’s something that hasn’t happened for a while, he noted, speaking to Cageside Press ahead of the tentpole event.
“I haven’t fought in front of my home crowd, in front of these L.A. fans, since like my fifth or sixth fight,” said McKee, who enters the Bellator featherweight grand prix at Bellator 228 at an undefeated 14-0. “It was my cousin Joey Davis’s pro debut, we were at the Honda Center.” This time around, he’s at The Forum, where he’s “looking forward to going out there and putting on a show for all the L.A. fans.”
McKee, unlike father Antonio, who is fighting on the very same card, was dressed to the nines at the Bellator 228 media day. As to why there was such a discrepancy between father and son, “Different time, different era,” said McKee the younger. “It’s my time. I gotta look fancy, gotta look presentable.”
Fashion is something A.J. enjoys, “because it shows a different side of me. Everybody sees my art in the cage. Everyone gets to see who I am as an artist, as a fighter. When it comes to be and fashion, I’m real big into fashion.”
Listing off a handful of local brands he’s into, and one as far as Japan, McKee added that for him, fashion is about “being different, man. Representing what you feel comfortable with, and what you feel you are, you know?”
But at his core, McKee is a fighter. “I’ve always wanted to fight. My dad never wanted me to fight,” he explained. “But I went from fighting in alleys, fighting at school, fighting in the hood, to now it’s a career, and now I’m about to be the Floyd Mayweather of MMA.”
If he wasn’t fighting, “I’d be a mercenary,” McKee told us. “I like guns, you know? First time picking up an AR, I was hitting stuff 800 yards out. I’ve got an eye with a gun, so I think I’d be a high class military officer.”
Sounds like fighting might be a safer bet. Though he has a tough out this weekend at Bellator 228 against Georgi Karakhanyan in the grand prix — an opponent too many have written off. “You can’t look past any man,” said McKee. “Georgi’s been fighting just as long as my father. He’s been in the game a while.”
Not to mention that “it’s a million dollars on the line. I know he’s coming to fight. He knows he’s got a fight, I know he’s got a fight, and he’s looking forward to bringing the fight. So he’s going to bring that fight, and I’m going to shut that fight down.”
Bellator 228 takes place Saturday, September 28 at The Forum in Inglewood, CA.