At long last, the first semifinal from the Bellator featherweight grand prix went down Thursday. A fight pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Bellator 253 main event saw undefeated phenom A.J. McKee in his toughest test yet against ex-bantamweight champ Darrion Caldwell.
The winner would move on to the grand prix finale, likely sometime in 2021. And if the fight also served as a test of McKee’s abilities, he passed it with flying colors.
Caldwell changed levels and landed a takedown within thirty seconds in the Bellator 253 main event. McKee answered that from his back with elbows and heel kicks to the thigh of Caldwell. But he was very much out in the open. Just when you had to wonder about how he’d fare through a round of top control from a former champion, McKee locked in a neck crank. It was tight. He put on the body lock, ensuring Caldwell was trapped. And that was all she wrote. Caldwell was forced to tap. McKee had the win, and a spot in the finale of the Featherweight Grand Prix.
1️⃣7️⃣&0️⃣ @AJMcKee101 secures the win tonight at #Bellator253 in dominant fashion as he advances in the #FeatherweightWGP.#MMA #Bellator pic.twitter.com/ViIXJUKjkM
— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) November 20, 2020
17-0. A shot at a million dollars. And A.J. McKee’s next fight will be for the featherweight title. An impressive night of work from the hottest prospect in Bellator MMA.
Official Result: A.J. McKee def. Darrion Caldwell by submission (neck crank), Round 1, 1:11 – Bellator featherweight grand prix semifinal