Los Angeles, CA — Scott Coker isn’t ready to grant A.J. McKee a shot at Patricio Pitbull’s other title. At least not yet.
Following McKee’s stunning victory over the Brazilian to claim the featherweight title, and win the promotion’s long-running featherweight grand prix at Bellator 263 on Saturday night, attention almost immediately turned to the now-former double champ’s second belt. Pitbull won the title in May 2019 by knocking out Michael Chandler, but has never defended the it.
That’s left an entire weight class in limbo for a two full years. While other contenders are in play, McKee (18-0) has been vocal about making the move to 155lbs, and making his own attempt at double-champ status.
“That’s something that I know A.J. has talked to me about, his dad has talked to me about it. But we haven’t talked to Pitbull,” Coker told Cageside Press following a historic night at The Forum in Los Angeles. “Listen, give the kid a little break— I’m talking about Pitbull. Give him a little break, let him see what he wants to do. But we’re going to start making some calls, maybe in a week or so, and see what his feeling on that is. But there will be a time where he’s going to have to defend it.”
Brother Patricky is currently the #1 contender in the lightweight division. The brothers aren’t about to throw down, which makes a fight with McKee at lightweight quite possible were he to move up. Coker hinted that could be in the cards. “I’ve heard rumblings that A.J., this might be his last fight at 45. That he’s having a hard time making weight,” admitted the Bellator President. “So he might have to go up to 55 and fight up there. But that’s something that he’ll have to decide, his father and his coaches will have to decide. It’s just too premature to determine that right now.”
One of the other standouts on the Bellator 263 card was Usman Nurmagomedov, cousin of former UFC champ Khabib. Following a decisive victory, he called for a spot on Bellator’s Moscow card in the fall — as did several other Dagestani fighters.
In the case of Nurmagomedov, it looks like he has the green light. “We invited Usman to fight in Moscow, because I don’t think he’s injured,” Coker revealed. “I talked to his manager before he left, said ‘we’re looking forward to having you fight again.’ We just want to keep him busy, and keep him fighting, keep him developing.”
Nurmagomedov made short work of Manny Muro at Bellator 263, setting up a first round finish with a knee to the body that dropped “The Dragon.” The lightweight later exclaimed that he had hoped to fight longer, but there’s little doubt he’s happy to see his record improve to 13-0.
Watch the full Bellator 263 post-fight press scrum with Scott Coker above.