Bellator 301: A.J. McKee’s Goal to “Become World Champion Again”

A.J. McKee, Bellator 301
A.J. McKee, Bellator 301 press conference Credit: Bellator MMA

A.J. McKee will face Sidney Outlaw at Bellator 301 this Friday in Chicago, a non-tournament lightweight bout that amounts to a battle of fighters who were scheduled for this year’s Lightweight Grand Prix, but couldn’t make it.

Outlaw was yanked due to a failed drug test; in McKee’s case, it was injury that did him in. But he’s back and hungry as ever, he revealed during Wednesday’s Bellator 301 press conference, with Cageside Press on hand.

“I just say being hungry; it’s almost literally been a year for the layoff. Fresh division, but just nothing but grinding,” McKee (20-1) said when asked about his motivation. “Grinding, staying prayed up, working, working, working.”

For those wondering if he might steal the show on Friday, Mckee pointed out that “Last time I was in a tournament I came out with a bag. Like I said before, all finishes, went and did it. Obviously not in this tournament, but being at 155lbs I plan to make a statement to the rest of the division. So it’s just going in there and doing what I do best.”

The goal, meanwhile, is for the former featherweight champ to once again claim gold. “Become world champion again. I don’t know. Things happen in mysterious ways. I don’t know if I’m out of the tournament. No one really knows what’s going to happen.”

That’s one hundred percent correct. Even Bellator officials couldn’t say what the future would hold for the grand prix this week, with champ Usman Nurmagomedov failing a drug test and having his semi-final win over Brent Primus overturned.

“But if my name’s on that belt I’d love to get in there and at least put people to the test, to feel like they deserve a belt with my name on it,” McKee added.

Bellator 301 takes place this Friday, November 17, 2023 at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago, IL. A.J. McKee faces Sidney Outlaw on the main card.