There’s just over 48 hours until Patricio Pitbull and A.J. McKee step into the cage to complete the Bellator featherweight grand prix. And ahead of that showdown, things have gone from tense, to heated, to boiling over, frankly.
On Thursday, at the Bellator 263 pre-fight press conference, the scene ended with Pitbull storming out, accusing McKee of being disrespectful, and seemingly crossing the line. McKee, not surprisingly, saw things differently.
The fracas all started when McKee’s coach and father, Antonio, was asked about his previous claims that Pitbull was the easiest fight for his son. Put on the spot about why he wasn’t talking to trash to that point in the press conference, McKee responded by saying he was trying to show respect for his son’s career. Pitbull’s own coach, Eric Albarracin, called out “17-1” in reference to McKee’s perfect 17-0 record.
Challenger A.J. then recalled a moment in which he felt Patricio Freire had been incredibly disrespectful to him.
“I asked Pitbull to sign a newspaper, just for my legacy, to hang up on my wall one day. Disrespect was crossing my picture out,” said McKee. “That’s disrespect. But you don’t see me talking about it—”
Pitbull interjected, to put it nicely, accusing McKee’s father Antonio of claiming the champ was using drugs. The younger McKee broke back in. “You remember you said you’re going to beat my ass in front of my father? I’m going to beat your ass in front of your wife and kids, how about that?”
“I’ll beat up your whole team,” Antonio McKee added, before the main event pair attempted to get at one another, while bickering about who started the disrespect. Security kept them well apart. “Don’t talk about my son,” hollered Pitbull. “Don’t talk about my father,” McKee replied, with the pair exchanging F-bombs. Pitbull made his exit, however, after McKee grabbed one of his two belts, on display on the table in front of him.
The champion could be heard yelling obscenities as he exited the stage, coach Albarracin in tow.
The press conference kicked off in a much more orderly fashion. Earlier on, Pitbull was asked about whether McKee represented the biggest fight for his career and legacy.
“It’s one of that. I’ve fought with several guys that were tough too. I beat Michael Chandler, and that was revenge for me, because [of] all that sh*t,” the double-champ replied. “But now is a new opportunity to show my talent.”
McKee tackled a question about handing Pitbull his first loss in the grand prix. “Just being faster, younger, stronger. Just fighting smart, keeping my range, making him bring the fight. Everyone goes out there and rushes him, let’s see what he does.”
When Pitbull was posed the same question, he suggested McKee didn’t want to be fighting. “He has all of this, what he [said]. But he’s nervous,” claimed Patricio Pitbull. “He don’t want to be there in the cage. I feel that.”
One man will walk away from the Bellator 263 main event Saturday with the featherweight title, the grand prix victory, and the million dollar prize. If that wasn’t enough, the bad blood might just push this fight to the next level.