Long Beach, CA — Former featherweight champ A.J. McKee made his lightweight debut at long last at Bellator 286 on Saturday — and it was a wild one.
Spike Carlyle came charging out of the gate at the Long Beach Arena, and three chaotic, bloody rounds ensued. McKee came away with the unanimous decision win, but it was no easy night at the office.
“It was kind of crazy, because honestly my game plan was to get on him like that. So when he flew across the cage at me, I was like ‘oh sh*t he’s coming at me.’ It threw me off a bit, but just a little adjustment,” McKee (19-1) told Cageside Press and other media outlets following the bout. “At that point I had to settle down, and just kind of change the perspective and look to counter him coming forward, not me going forward. And then wrestle. I hit him a couple times, and I think he had to respect the power. He realized ‘okay, this is a fight.'”
McKee said he was definitely able to focus in the fight, though little adjustments had to be made. “It was a fun fight. I enjoyed it. He’s a bit bigger, a bit stronger. I tried to get a little soufflé in there, and I couldn’t get his feet off the ground. I was like ‘oh this is a big boy!’ It’s just little things like that. I think in due time, letting my body get acclimated walking around 170, 175.”
Of course, McKee’s immediate future at lightweight may depend on the willingness of featherweight rival and current champ Patricio Pitbull to engage in a third fight between the pair. Pitbull, who won the 145lb belt back from McKee earlier this year, successfully defended it against Adam Borics in the Bellator 286 main event.
“First I need to know if this ‘Pocket Pit’ wants to fight for his legacy or not. Like I’ve always said, I’m willing to, I’m more than willing to. I think it’s good for my legacy, for his legacy. You can’t end the game 1-1. We need to find out.”
Just what is a “Pocket Pit,” you might ask? “Put that dog in your pocket. Small little Pitbull. Pocket Pit,” McKee explained. “I like big dogs. I’ve got XLs.”
Watch the full Bellator 286 post-fight press conference with A.J. McKee above.