Los Angeles, CA — The press conference has come and gone. The weigh-in is in the book. There’s nothing but time between now and the Bellator 263 main event on Saturday, when A.J. McKee goes toe-to-toe with featherweight champ Patricio Pitbull.
“It’s surreal. Last time we were in these red walls, we broke some history. So I’m looking forward to making some more history go down,” McKee told Cageside Press in an exclusive interview following Friday’s ceremonial weigh-in at The Forum in L.A.
Friday was a more orderly affair. Thursday, McKee and Pitbull had to be restrained during the pre-fight press conference, as emotions boiled over. Both accused the other of disrespect. McKee took umbrage in the champ promising to beat him in front of father Antonio, who doubles as his head coach. McKee retorted that he’d beat Pitbull in front of his wife and son.
Pitbull had his son in attendance for the final face-off on Friday, a move perhaps designed to ensure there would be no other outbursts.
“Definitely,” McKee agreed. “But he said I’m going to pay for what I said. At the end of the day, the disrespect was in regards to what [Pitbull] said. So at the end of the day, I don’t know, I’m not going to play favorites, I’m not going to say who did what, what goes on. But I said what I said, and I meant it.”
Ultimately, Bellator staff and security may have been more concerned about keeping the headlining pair separate than Pitbull and McKee themselves. Asked what he thought would happen in the final face-off Friday, “obviously keep it respectful, cordial,” said McKee. “I think everybody else was kind of worried about us getting close to each other. It’s kind of been a continuing thing, not letting us get close to each other. Whatever. We got a little too close I guess.”
“You prick the dog, eventually you get bit,” added father Antonio, who said he was simply having a good time, “watching my son collect belts.”
Should A.J. McKee come away with the win on Saturday, he will not only claim the featherweight championship, but a million dollars in prize money as well. “The Mercenary” has long talked about staying grounded, so what sort of normal-person reaction will he have to becoming a millionaire?
“Drive fast cars,” exclaimed A.J. His father had a different idea. “Nah, we’re gonna get his ass a job.”
Watch our full interview with A.J. and Antonio McKee above. Bellator 263 takes place this Saturday, July 31 at The Forum in Los Angeles, CA. The main card airs live on Showtime in the U.S.