UFC president, Dana White doesn’t appear to be immediately sold on the talents presented by recently minted undisputed Bellator featherweight champion, A.J. ‘Mercenary’ McKee, and is quite unsure how the undefeated finisher would fair opposite featherweights under the UFC’s banner.
Long Beach native, McKee turned in a masterful performance at Bellator 263 last weekend opposite former two-weight champion, Patricio ‘Pitbull’ Freire — clinching the undisputed crown as well as the promotion’s featherweight World Grand Prix with a standing guillotine win in the opening round.
Headlining at The Forum event in Inglewood, California — McKee launched with a massive left high-kick early in the opening round, wobbling the Brazilian titleholder before dropping Freire with a series of hooks.
Wheeling away in celebration, albeit, prematurely, McKee returned to engage — immediately latching onto the defending champion’s neck to set up a standing guillotine, choking the Natal native unconscious momentarily.
Improving to 18-0 with the victory, McKee was almost immediately linked with a potential future move to the UFC, with eagle-eyed onlookers hypothesizing potential future outings against former featherweight champion, Max Holloway and the streaking, Zabit Magomedsharipov.
According to the aforenoted, White, however, he’s unsure how the undefeated Californian would match up with contenders under the UFC’s banner, but assured that McKee would have to call the UFC upon the completion of his contract with the Scott Coker-led Bellator.
“I don’t know, I don’t know” White responded when asked by TSN reporter, Aaron Bronsteterhow McKee would perform against UFC featherweights. “We’ll see. When his (A.J. McKee) contract is up, he’ll have to call. We’ll see what we can do.“
Blitzing through the Bellator featherweight World Grand Prix on route to last Saturday’s victory over Freire, McKee scored three prior stoppages over former bantamweight best, Darrion Caldwell, as well as Derek Campos and Georgi Karakhanyan.
Of note recently, former three-time Bellator lightweight best, Michael Chandler penned a deal to move to the UFC following a 10-year run with Bellator, and from two outings in the Octagon so far, has stopped Dan Hooker with a first round knockout, as well as suffering a May knockout loss of his own to recently minted gold holder, Charles Oliveira.
Following Bellator 263, the aforenoted, Coker noted his willingness to co-promote an event with the UFC, however, remained realistic that any sort of cross-promotional alliance between both organizations would be unlikely to ever occur.
“Yeah, I mean I would love to see (A.J. McKee) fight against other people as well, as you guys would also, but it’s not going to happen because it’s not the UFC’s business model to do it,” Coker told assembled media. “But you tell me this kid couldn’t go in there and fight anybody right now. Everybody knows that he can do it. So if they (the UFC) want to get it on, we’d do it in a second.“
As for the immediate future for McKee, the abovementioned, Freire and his camp noted their interest in scoring a lightweight title rematch against the Californian — this time on his home soil in Brazil, however.
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