In case you weren’t aware, A.J. Mckee (17-0) is very much the real deal. He proved that at Bellator 253 with a stunning neck crank submission of Darrion Caldwell.
Caldwell, an NCAA Division I wrestler, did what you would expect a decorated wrestler to do: he took McKee down early, and with authority. McKee didn’t panic, and barely seemed concerned. Instead, he landed that neck crank from the bottom.
The 17-0 next to McKee’s name is no joke. All seventeen of those wins have come under the Bellator banner. His next fight will be for the title. And the million dollars that awaits the winner of the featherweight grand prix.
McKee told media outlets following his Bellator 253 performance — already being considered a Submission of the Year candidate by some — that he didn’t care who he faced in the finale. However, while speaking with Cageside Press, he did break down the remaining semifinal fight between Patricio Pitbull and Emmanuel Sanchez.
And when it comes to the current champ, McKee sees himself as a nightmare match-up.
“If I’m going off the first fight [between Pitbull and Sanchez] — I’m big on tape, I’m big on fighters and watching them, because not a lot of guys evolve. Emmanuel Sanchez puts out a lot of repetition, but he’s a pillow puncher. He ain’t got no power,” opined McKee. The way the Bellator 253 winner sees it, “If Paricio touches his chin, it’s going to be a problem.”
There’s always a but, however. In this case, it’s the volume of Sanchez. “His volume can out-do Patricio, and that’s what we saw in the first fight between them. That volume was hard for [Pitbull] to handle,” said McKee.
“Now, if Patricio steps in front of me, he’s going to have that volume with power. That’s a nightmare,” he continued. “If Emmanuel Sanchez steps in front of me, I’ve already psychologically destroyed that man. We were supposed to fight, he’s ran from me, I’m waiting for him to get in the cage with me.” The way McKee sees it, Sanchez ducked him once, then did it again going with the other side of the tournament bracket.
Still, he’s willing to let things play their course when it comes to Pitbull and Sanchez. “I’m not tripping, it’s between these guys. They’ve got to battle it out now. Whatever their course is, when they step in my course, that’s when it comes to a halt and an end.”
One fight you won’t be seeing from McKee is with Aaron Pico. While Pico has left Team Bodyshop, where he got his start alongside McKee, it would take “one hundred million dollars” for the pair to throw down, said McKee. Even if he is champion while Pico is on the rise. “Loyalty is royalty,” stated McKee. “Even though he left that’s still my boy.”
Watch the full Bellator 253 post-fight press scrum with A.J. McKee above.