Mid-Year Forecast: The Top Five Fights Coming Up In 2021

Patricio Pitbull and AJ McKee following Bellator 255
Patricio Pitbull and AJ McKee following Bellator 255 Credit: Bellator MMA

4. Patricio Pitbull vs. AJ McKee

In January, this fight made the list before it was even confirmed.  But after a throttling stoppage of Emmanuel Sanchez in April, Patricio “Pitbull” Freire has held up his end of the bargain to complete what could be the biggest match-up of homegrown talents in Bellator history.

Pitbull has been in this position before, stopping Michael Chandler to reign supreme as the undisputed face of the promotion.  Should he turn away the next generation in McKee, he will have virtually swept the field in Bellator and set up a scenario where he could seek to be released as an active champion in order to chase new challenges in the UFC.

For McKee, a victory over Freire would be the culmination of years of development.  He has been heralded as the most talented and marketable prospect the sport has seen since Jon Jones over a decade ago.  While Freire is discussing a jump to the UFC after years of dominance, McKee sees a chance to test himself against a deeper pool of talent at a time when he is just reaching the height of his powers.