Los Angeles, CA — This past Saturday, Alexander Volkanovski successfully defended his UFC featherweight title against The Korean Zombie at UFC 273, earning a fourth-round TKO finish. It was a dominant showing, but not one that blew Bellator’s own featherweight champ, A.J. McKee, out of his seat.
McKee (18-0), who has spent the entirety of his professional career with Bellator MMA, has his own title defense coming up this Friday at Bellator 277, in a rematch with ex-champ Patricio Pitbull. At a press conference in Los Angeles on Monday promoting the event, McKee gave his thoughts on Volkanovski’s win, and how he shapes up in comparison to the UFC’s 145lb division.
“Great. I feel I come out on top with any 45’er in the world, especially 55’s as well,” McKee told media outlets including Cageside Press, asked about how he stacks up against the competition. “Obviously them  being a bit bigger, but 145— I watched the Volkanovski fight, I wasn’t too impressed.”
“Honestly I feel myself and [Patricio] Pitbull, we can hang with any 45’er in the world,” McKee continued. “That’s no discredit to any other 145’er in the world, but I strongly believe that Bellator has the best 145lb division in the world. I’ve got a million dollars to back it, I’m sure he’s got his own money to back it, Scott [Coker]’s got a nice cheque to back it. I would love to do cross-promotion.”
McKee does, in fact, have a million dollars from his featherweight grand prix win last year, which saw him submit Pitbull in the final. That no doubt has the undefeated fighter feeling confident — but he suggested it boiled down to Fight IQ in the end.
“The Volkanovski fight, Fight Iq’s just a bit different. He’s real heavy on his back foot, and he keeps it sideways, which means he only has vertical movement when he strikes,” noted Mckee. “Therefore his lateral movement when he strikes is obsolete. Paying attention to little things like that, yeah. It’d be a fun fight.”
A fun fight, but not one likely to ever happen. “Please tell them to send [Volkanovski] over, because we’d be happy to fight him any time,” Bellator President Scott Coker broke in to add, acknowledging that “that hasn’t been their business model.”
In the meantime, McKee has his own challenge in the Pitbull rematch, which, should it go his way, could lead to a move up to lightweight. As for a prediction for the fight, McKee told Cageside Press on Monday “done in two rounds.”
“He said he wants to fight 25 minutes, I don’t want to fight any man for 25 minutes. And that’s why I train the way I train.”
Bellator 277 takes place this Friday, April 15, 2022 at the SAP Center in San Jose. A.J. McKee meets Patricio Pitbull for the featherweight title in the main event.