A.J. McKee is going to be sticking with Bellator MMA for the foreseeable future.
McKee (20-1), the promotion’s former featherweight champ who has since moved to lightweight, re-signed with the promotion recently. That exclusive, multi-fight deal was a big one. But having secured one bag, it doesn’t mean another won’t be there down the line.
After all, McKee is still just 27. He’s really just hit his prime — and free agency will be there again down the road.
“Like my dad always tells me, he says ‘Rome wasn’t built overnight.’ So one day at a time, one contract at a time,” McKee told Cageside Press in a recent exclusive interview. “I’m in a great position right now. I couldn’t me more happy with where I’m at, where my team’s at, where the family’s at, where Bellator’s at. I think this is a phenomenal opportunity not just for myself, [but] for the organization.”
McKee is now set to enter the lightweight grand prix, after winning its featherweight counterpart, and the million dollar purse. “I don’t know if I’d say this tournament’s bigger than the featherweight— nah, it’s probably bigger than the featherweight [grand prix],” McKee exclaimed.
“It’s bigger in every way. The weight class, the names. There’s just so many legends in this, so many up-and-coming legends, so many great athletes in totality. I’m excited for it, I can’t wait. First round’s popping off, and we’ve got the family feud, Patricky first round.”
That would be Patricky Pitbull, brother of Bellator featherweight champ Patricio. McKee is 1-1 with Patricio, but it’s Patricky he meets in the opening round of the 155lb tournament. “It’s time to make it a family affair,” he added.
There are those who will be disappointed that A.J. McKee hasn’t jumped to the UFC, but at the end of the day, he made a business decision in sticking with Bellator. A lucrative one, from the sounds of it.
“Good business goes a long way. I don’t care who it is, I just love to fight. I don’t care who it is. You want to fight? Y’all want to see that fight? It could happen,” McKee said, of some of the bigger names outside Bellator being matched up with him. “I don’t think Dana [White, UFC President] gonna let it happen. I don’t think anybody’s going to let it happen. I’m where I’m at. Bellator’s more than open to doing cross-promotions. If it happens, hey we’re full force with it. We’re on board. It’s just a matter of making it happen.”
As for other promotions like the PFL and ONE Championship, McKee has floated the idea with boss Scott Coker.
“Yes and no. I’ve mentioned it to Mr. Coker many times, I’m willing to fight anybody, anywhere any place, any time,” McKee stated. “With these other organizations that are allowing and starting to do cross promotions, I think it’s a great opportunity to capitalize on. Especially for our organization. PFL, they’re doing their PPVs, maybe we do a PPV, get [Cris] Cyborg vs. Kayla [Harrison]. That’s a big fight everybody wants to see. You got Cyborg versus the champ, you’ve got myself versus Pettis. Anybody. There’s great lineups around the world. You’ve got ONE FC you could do some big stuff with.”
“I’m down with trying new things, and so is Bellator. So let’s make it happen captain.”
Watch our full interview with Bellator lightweight A.J. McKee above.