Uncasville, CT — As featherweight grand prix finalist AJ McKee was sitting down to speak to the media following rival Patricio Pitbull’s win in the Bellator 255 main event, the hooting and hollering began.
Team Pitbull was making their way backstage. McKee was seated in front of the media. “Congratulations, enjoy it while it lasts,” called out McKee. An F-bomb was hurled back in his direction.
Yes, there is definitely some bad blood between the two, who are likely to face off in the tournament finale this summer with one million dollars on the line. And while it was Pitbull’s teammates being vocal backstage on Friday, there doesn’t seem to be any love lost between the pair either.
McKee’s response to all the commotion? “His teammates ain’t sh*t. At the end of the day, he has to go in that cage and fight with me. We keep our respect mutual, but if one of his teammates want to mouth off, they can get slapped,” he proclaimed, speaking to media outlets including Cageside Press.
“Keep the fighting fighting. Because there’s a different side that you guys don’t want to see. So let’s keep the respect levels cordial and mutual, because I go zero to a hundred real quick,” McKee continued. “They don’t call me ‘The Mercenary’ for no reason.”
Pitbull’s performance at Bellator 255 did not surprise McKee in the least, it seems. “He went out there and did his job. Nothing I didn’t expect. He went back to his bread and butter. He rocked Sanchez a little bit, and saw an opportunity.” That opportunity resulted in Patricio Pitbull becoming the first man to stop Emmanuel Sanchez, choking him out with a guillotine.
“The difference is, Sancehz is not me. And Pitbull is not Sanchez,” said McKee. “For me, the fight is irrelevant until one of them gets to where I’m at. So now that he’s also in the finals, now I can begin to analyze and assess what I’m going to do with the fight.”
As McKee later observed, “I’m a lot bigger, a lot longer. I’ve got a 75 inch reach. There’s no way he should get anywhere near me. If he goes out there and fights the way he fought that fight, I promise you he won’t get near me. He’s going to have to create openings, try to get on the inside.”
“You’ve got to bring the fight to me. I know you’ve got the belt, but at the end of the day, I’ve got the reach, I’ve got the advantage,” McKee continued.
Advantage or not, Patricio Pitbull has been in McKee’s sights since day one. His entire 17-0 career. “Go back to my very first interview. Patricio Pitbull’s been the man. Nothing against him, he’s got great accolades,” said McKee. But on the other hand, “I already said I’m going to be a champ-champ.”
“It’s the new era. He’s saying my time’s over? My time’s just begun,” McKee later exclaimed.
Perhaps surprisingly, throughout the tournament, McKee has actually been rooting for Pitbull, just to get this match-up. “Definitely. It’s a fight the fans have wanted for the longest time. On top of, he’s underrated. He is an outstanding champ. From beating Chandler, to— his accolades, his record, it’s phenomenal.”
That won’t stop McKee from trying to put an end to Pitbull’s reign this summer, however.
Watch the full media scrum with AJ McKee from Bellator 255 above.