San Jose, CA — Following the first loss of his fighting career, A.J. McKee had two key messages.
One, it’s clear he doesn’t feel Patricio Pitbull actually beat him in the main event of Bellator 277 on Friday. Despite three judges clearly feeling otherwise. Two, he’s done with the featherweight division.
“I’ve always felt you’ve got to beat the champ. I don’t think [Pitbull] did that,” McKee (18-1) told Cageside Press backstage at the SAP Center in San Jose, CA. “We saw the way I beat him.”
McKee beat Pitbull in their first meeting last July, securing a submission within a round. In Friday’s rematch, the pair went the distance, with all three judges scoring it for Brazil’s Pitbull, who reclaimed his featherweight title in the process.
Despite the loss, McKee popped a bottle of champagne backstage. “It is what it is. My dad’s always told me, he said ‘don’t leave it to the judges.’ At the end of the day, ball’s in my court, that’s my mistake, my mess up.”
Now, said McKee, it’s “back to the drawing board.” But with a new division in mind. “Sh*t, I want my rematch at 55 then, what’s up? Like I’ve been telling you, I’m done with 45s, unless we get some super-fights going. I’ve been at 45 for years, years and years and years. Cutting a lot of weight. I don’t think people like to see what goes into it. It’s a lot of work, not just for myself, for my team and for my family. It’s rough seeing me get down to 45s.”
Asked specifically if he wanted a trilogy fight against Patricio Pitbull, McKee answered “Sure. 55s. Why not? Faster. Stronger. Bigger. Yeah, I’m going to unleash that beast. Monster-style, baby.”
Pitbull previously told Cageside Press he was doing fighting at lightweight, where his brother is currently champ. Whether he changes his mind for a trilogy fight, and whether the promotion has interest, remains to be seen.
Watch the full Bellator 277 post-fight press conference with A.J. McKee above.