AJ McKee subdues Pitbull to win million dollar title fight – Whittier Daily News
INGLEWOOD – AJ McKee’s call has finally arrived at home.
The undefeated Long Beach star’s crusade, which began with his pro MMA and Bellator debut in 2016 when he dared to invoke the name of featherweight champion Patricio Pitbull, has spanned over six years.
On Saturday night at the Forum, McKee won the $ 1 million Bellator World Featherweight Grand Prix with a technical bid via a Pitbull standing guillotine choke in the first round to claim the belt and establish his elite status in the sport.
“It’s been 22 years since 22 years,” said the 26-year-old Long Beach Poly graduate in the post-fight press conference as his father and trainer Antonio calmly watched aside.
“I said I was going to do it in style. Done and one. Headbutt, Uppercut. I saw him resign.
McKee took the center of the cage from the start, but the pair faced off with little action other than a few McKee kicks in Pitbull’s legs.
The left-hander pushed Pitbull back towards the fence when he faked a left shot. Pitbull reached out his right hand and McKee connected with a perfectly synchronized left head kick, his shin exploding the side of Pitbull’s jaw. McKee tapped a staggered Pitbull with a few punches before a left uppercut dropped the Brazilian.
The 26-year-old phenomenon started celebrating prematurely before referee Mike Beltran told him to keep fighting and Pitbull began to rise. McKee jumped up and locked in a standing guillotine choke, squeezing with all his might for several seconds before McKee felt the Pitbull begin to fade away. As Pitbull’s arms started to go limp, Beltran jumped at 1:57 to start a wild celebration of the partisan crowd.
Pitbull (32-5) hadn’t lost in five years, winning all seven title fights before Saturday – twice dethroning a champion and five times successfully defending his featherweight title.
Plus, in 36 pro fights over 17 years, Pitbull had never been knocked out or subdued – and McKee could have done both in under two minutes.
Pitbull appeared to protest the Beltran shutdown. McKee said Pitbull told him that after the fight he had not passed out.
McKee joked at the post-fight press conference, “Maybe he wasn’t satisfied. I can turn it off again.
Pitbull later said he watched the finish and didn’t disagree with that.
“That night he was great. He kicked me in the head, he almost knocked me out and almost finished me that same night, ”said the former champion. “He was good. Congratulations. Now he’s the champion.
McKee (18-0) launched his professional MMA career over six years ago, just turning 20 and winning a submission victory at the Bren Events Center in Irvine and calling Pitbull, who was in his first reign featherweight title for seven months.
Pitbull and McKee both started their grand prix journey at Bellator 228 in September 2019 at the Forum – Pitbull dominating main contender Juan Archuleta in a unanimous decision after McKee recorded an 8-second knockout over Georgi Karakhanyan.
Three months later against Derek Campos, McKee earned a third round submission victory despite tearing his lateral collateral ligament in his left knee at the Bellator 236 in December 2019. And in November, he advanced to the final by forcing a strike via a crank. / Guillotine choke of former Bellator bantamweight champion and NCAA wrestling champion Darrion Caldwell at Bellator 253 in November.
Pitbull, 34, had been considered by some to be the best 145 pounds in the world. He is still the organization’s lightweight champion – one of only three double champions in Bellator history, although there are none left now.
Bellator CEO Scott Coker revealed after the fight that McKee’s team had mentioned that their fighter might not be long for the featherweight division as the 145-pound limit has become increasingly difficult to achieve. for him.
McKee confirmed this and suggested facing Pitbull again, this time for his lightweight title.
Pitbull’s team welcomed the challenge but offered a role reversal by welcoming McKee to Brazil for the rematch. “We traveled 36 hours to get here. Let’s go there once, ”said Eric Albarracin, Pitbull coach.
Either way, the sky’s the limit for McKee and Bellator knows it. Coker pontified about the potential for Showtime and CBS to tap into McKee’s considerable skill set and high-powered charisma, and praised his transcendent performance in front of Southern California fans.
“It was spectacular. You felt the energy in this room, ”Coker said. “It was electric in there. AJ did his thing. He was awesome.
For his part, McKee hasn’t completely closed the door to fights at 145 pounds. He admitted that his dream fight had always been former UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway, and although a cross-promotion fight between Bellator and UFC has every chance of a snowball. in hell, McKee hinted that he might be persuaded.
“I am the best 145 pounds in the world,” he said. “I have a million dollars in cash in the bank. I’m ready to put that on the line.