Bellator 263 results, takeaways: AJ McKee fulfills his own destiny, creates a massive star for the promotion

After a surprising first-round submission of two-division champion Patricio “Pitbull” Freire on Saturday within the finals of the Bellator MMA Featherweight World Grand Prix, AJ McKee appeared to seize the mantle as the very best pound-for-pound fighter within the promotion. 

McKee (18-0), who took house a win bonus of $1 million following his fourth victory within the match, lived as much as his shiny potential — after which some — with such a dominant efficiency.  

Let’s take a better take a look at the most important takeaways from an thrilling Bellator 263 inside The Discussion board in Inglewood, California.  

1. Crown him: AJ McKee is who he stated he was 

The paraphrasing of former NFL head coach Dennis Inexperienced’s notorious post-game rant could not be extra apropos on this occasion because the 26-year-old McKee known as his shot in reference to his future greatness and backed it up in as eye-opening a approach as potential. The backstory of McKee might match a Hollywood script as he grew up underneath troublesome circumstances not too removed from the location of his star-making victory in Lengthy Seashore, but he was groomed from the very starting for greatness. His father/coach Antonio was a pioneering MMA fighter and coach, which allowed AJ to develop up in gyms watching the likes of Tito Ortiz and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson ply their craft. At age 12, McKee claims he wrote himself a examine for $1 million, which turned out 14 years later to be the precise prize cash given to the winner of the Featherweight World Grand Prix he ran by with relative ease. McKee additionally started calling out Freire shortly after his professional debut, which got here underneath the Bellator banner again in 2015. Six years later, with a poise and confidence that belies his expertise, McKee basically put the nice Pitbull to sleep utilizing his opponent’s personal ending transfer of selection — a guillotine choke. Let’s face it, McKee is a phenom. He solely raised his already shiny ceiling of potential by defeating Bellator’s most embellished champion in a approach nobody else has achieved to this point.

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2. It is arduous to understate simply how large this evening was for Bellator 

Someplace inside The Discussion board, Bellator CEO Scott Coker needed to be smiling that his funding in McKee created such a good-looking return. Though Coker wasn’t round when the promotion was based in 2008, his arrival in 2014 marked a change in course for Bellator’s technique. Creating an id took time as Bellator shortly dropped its match format and initially discovered success underneath Coker by leaning on circus fights involving the likes of the late Kimbo Slice and quite a few ageing UFC washouts to garner large scores. However Coker additionally started a really quiet grassroots marketing campaign with hopes of making future stars totally inside his personal promotion. Younger fighters had been closely recruited on the developmental stage, together with uber prospect Aaron Pico who was signed whereas nonetheless in highschool. McKee had simply turned 20 when he made his personal Bellator debut and the victory over Freire turned out to be the last word end result of that constructing from the within out mannequin Coker sought to create. Not solely does McKee now maintain Bellator data for many consecutive wins, he moved right into a tie with Freire for many finishes and is simply two extra wins behind Pitbull for the highest spot. Extra importantly, Coker can now publicly make the declare that he simply would possibly promote the very best fighter on the planet at 145 kilos. Certain, the identical switch of energy inside the promotion would nonetheless have taken place had McKee received by boring choice. But the truth that he did so in such highlight-reel style gave Coker a must-see attraction shifting ahead.  

3. This one felt lots like Conor McGregor-Jose Aldo from 2015 

Most MMA pundits had bother discovering the proper comparability all through the game’s historical past for which combat McKee-Pitbull greatest resembled. Bellator analyst “Huge” John McCarthy wanted to go exterior the cage to make a comparability throughout Saturday’s broadcast when he introduced up the 1964 heavyweight boxing title bout between Muhammad Ali, then often known as Cassius Clay, in opposition to Sonny Liston. It seems, the abrupt and spectacular nature of McKee’s win was rather more corresponding to what McGregor did at UFC 196 when he unified the promotion’s 145-pound title by knocking out Jose Aldo in simply 13 seconds to finish the Brazilian’s practically decade-long reign atop the division. The brash McGregor, a local of Eire, has a persona that is something like McKee’s, which fails to make the comparability good. However Freire, like Aldo a local of Brazil, was virtually an ideal match for the sort of reverence and dominance that Aldo introduced with him into that combat. McGregor’s stunning victory took him from the standing of rising star and catapulted him, virtually in a single day, into world superstardom. McKee’s state of affairs is definitely muted as compared but it is arduous to disregard the sensation {that a} star was born proper earlier than our eyes given the relative ease in how he dispatched such a battle-tested foe on the peak of his bodily and psychological prime.  

4. It’s totally potential we see McKee and Freire tangle once more 

As the 2 most gifted fighters the promotion has ever seen, it is solely pure to think about a return date would ultimately be booked, particularly contemplating how little we really discovered about how their kinds distinction as a result of the combat lasted simply 117 seconds. Freire, traditionally, has additionally grown from his defeats in exponential style not solely by redeeming them usually (see Pat Curran and Daniel Strauss), however by closing up any holes in his sport that had been uncovered. However a rematch might come even faster than anticipated ought to Coker enable McKee to hold out his initially supposed plan of defeating Freire for his featherweight title after which shifting up 10 kilos to light-weight and difficult Pitbull for that belt too. Whether or not or not Coker permits for it would rely on whether or not Freire follows his personal objective, which he acknowledged earlier than the combat, of reducing all the way down to 135 kilos in hopes of changing into Bellator’s first three-division champion by difficult new bantamweight king Sergio Pettis.  

5. The Dagestan invasion is taking Bellator by storm 

The Bellator 263 undercard proved to be an thrilling one on Saturday, principally because of the explosive efforts of 4 Russian fighters with Dagestan roots, all who had been skilled by the American Kickboxing Academy duo of head coach Javier Mendez and former UFC light-weight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. After retiring earlier this 12 months with a 29-0 report, Nurmagomedov has been seemingly simply as good as a coach. “The Eagle” went 4-0 on this evening, highlighted by his first cousin, light-weight Usman Nurmagomedov, scoring a vicious first-round TKO in opposition to Manny Muro by way of knee to the physique. Islam Mamedov, Gadzhi Rabadanov and Khasan Magomedsharipov (the brother of UFC featherweight Zabit) had been simply as spectacular in their very own methods as Coker continues to fill out his roster with dominant European fighters on the rise. Given the success of fellow Russian-based fighters who just lately claimed Bellator titles — together with mild heavyweight Vadim Nemkov and welterweight Yaroslav Amosov – it is protected to say the promotion has discovered a pipeline to its future. | Bellator 263 outcomes, takeaways: AJ McKee fulfills his personal future, creates an enormous star for the promotion


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