22 years in the making, champion A.J. McKee challenges any featherweight on earth at Bellator 263

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – A.J. McKee dreamt of the moment for 22 years before it became a reality at Bellator 263.

After a six-year build with the promotion, McKee (18-0 MMA, 18-0 BMMA) finished champion, Patricio Freire, in rapid fashion with a head kick followed by a guillotine choke Saturday at The Forum.

“Man, to do it the way I did it, I said I was going to do it in stylistic fashion,” McKee told MMA Junkie at a post-fight news conference. “Done in one. When I rocked him, I was just like, ‘That’s it.’ I just knew it. After the head kick, I hit him with that uppercut and I just saw him quit. He didn’t need anymore. But like the ref said, ‘Don’t stop punching until I tell you to.’”

McKee, 26, said the fight wasn’t what he was expecting. He always imagined doing something flashy and captivating, but the strike-to-submission method he used wasn’t it.

“Honestly, I dreamt the fight,” McKee said. “I knew I won the fight. I prayed about it and the same night I had a vision. So I knew I had a victory but it wasn’t the dream that I had which was peculiar. Now, maybe that’s the 155-pound title that I saw. I don’t know. I’m just enjoying this moment, man. I knew it was going to come.”

With the victory, McKee’s star shined through – and potentially reached new heights. He was the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter in the United States on Saturday.

In his estimation, the skills back up the hype, though, because he thinks no 145-pounder in the world can top him inside the cage. That’s regardless of promotion: Bellator, UFC, PFL, you name it. If it’s not claiming the promotion’s lightweight title in a rematch against “Pitbull,” McKee wants to fight the best of the best – so much so, that he’s even willing to make a bet on it.

“Being at 145 pounds isn’t the easiest,” McKee said. “Maybe we get some superfights going but I’m pretty much done with the division at 145 pounds, so hop up to 155 pounds. He’s the best 145-pounder – was the best. I’ve pretty much been saying it. Now people are seeing it and believing it. I am the best 145-pounder in the world whether it’s UFC, ONE FC, PFL, I don’t care who it is.

“I’ve got $1 million cash in my bank and I’d put it up against anybody else. I’m sure Showtime and Bellator, they’ll match it. Let’s do some superfights. Let’s get some big stuff going. Let’s change this sport, like I’ve been saying. Let’s do it. Let’s unify these belts.”

Bellator 263 took place Saturday at The Forum. The main card aired on Showtime after prelims on MMA Junkie.

Original article: https://mmajunkie.usatoday.com/2021/08/bellator-263-video-aj-mckee-challenges-featherweights-ufc-pfl-one-championship

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