San Jose, CA — Patricio Pitbull does not foresee a lightweight title shot for A.J. McKee, despite the featherweight champ having expressed interest in exactly that.
“It’s not gonna happen,” Pitbull told Cageside Press on Thursday in an exclusive interview. “I’m going to stop him tomorrow, and he’s not going to fight my brother.”
The familial ties ahead of Bellator 277 have been as strong as ever. McKee has father Antonio, himself a veteran lightweight, in his corner. He’s long talked about moving to lightweight, and with Bellator’s 155lb belt currently held by Patricio’s brother Patricky, the fight seems just a little bit personal.
Of course, Patricio Pitbull himself is a former Bellator lightweight champion — but those days are in the past, he confirmed to us.
“No, my future is the featherweight division,” Pitbull said when asked about a move back to 155. “My focus is on that.”
His focus has been on the rematch with McKee for the better part of a year. “After the loss, I just come home and train for this fight until now,” he noted. “So I’m focused, and I’m gonna try to take my belt back. I’m very confident.”
After over 15 years in the sport and approaching 40 fights, what keeps Patricio Pitbull committed to growing as a martial artist? That, he said, was his “will to want to evolve.”
“There’s a lot of martial arts that I haven’t even used in part of my strategy and game plans. In a lot of my game plans, I haven’t had the opportunity to use [them]. I have the will to want to learn, to get better.”
Coach Eric Albarracin noted that it’s key for coaches to evolve as well. “When you’re a world champion coach, you know that the next person is the best person on the planet. And we all know we have a bullseye on our back, so we have to continue to evolve. The coaches have to continue to evolve, the coaches have to work as a unit, evolving every single day for every fight.”
We’ll know how much Patricio Pitbull and his team has evolved when he gets his second crack at A.J. McKee atop Bellator 277.