SAN JOSE, Calif. – Ahead of his first attempted title defense, A.J. McKee thinks he’s simply on a different level than the rest of the world’s featherweights.
McKee (18-0 MMA, 18-0 BMMA) beat Patricio Freire (32-5 MMA, 20-5 BMMA) in 2021 to win Bellator’s 145-pound title. Going into the fight, Freire was considered by most to be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the promotion’s history.
Unbeaten heading into their rematch at Bellator 277, that’s a throne McKee is threatening to take. And he thinks once being the best in Bellator is a given, it’ll extend to the rest of the world, too.
McKee has had a few words to say about UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski, who is coming off a dominant TKO win over Chan Sung Jung. But he also cautioned people shouldn’t take that too far out of context.
“Everybody keeps on thinking I’m dissing Volkanovski,” McKee said at Wednesday’s media day for Bellator 277 in San Jose, Calif. “The dude’s the champ, bro. He’s good. But stylistically, it’s a bad matchup (against me). It’s like ‘Pitbull’ and I: It’s a bad matchup for Patricio. It don’t look good. It’s not going to look good, ever, for him.”
McKee has been vocal about his contract status with Bellator heading into Friday. He said another dominant win over Freire would be “icing on the cake” and would help make the case for a bigger and better new deal.
But he also said he’s realistic about his future – and that going to the UFC one day is an inevitability.
But before that, he has to stay unbeaten against Freire.
“I would say it’s a bit more pressure because obviously the first fight, that was our first exchange. We didn’t get to see much in that fight – so everybody’s like, ‘Oh, maybe he just got caught.’ No, that’s just the way it was supposed to go,” McKee told MMA Junkie.
“I’m looking forward to this fight. He’s been the man since I first stepped foot in this cage. Hat’s off to him, but like I’ve constantly said, it’s a new era – a new wave. Waves, they come with some power.”