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AJ McKee on defeating Patricio Pitbull to become featherweight king: “This is the beginning to my legacy”

AJ McKee made history, plain and simple.

The undefeated featherweight became the new Bellator 145-pound champion by dethroning the long-time king Patricio “Pitbull” Freire by first-round submission at Bellator 263 on Saturday, July 31. McKee put Freire down with a head kick and slapped on a standing-guillotine choke.

He signaled to referee Mike Beltran that Freire was out and Beltran stepped in. McKee claims the title at The Forum in Los Angeles, California.

“I’ve been the man since I stepped into this cage,” McKee said. “This is the beginning to my legacy.”

McKee waited patiently for an opening. Both men started off slow, feeling one another out. McKee established control early, taking up the center of the cage and landing a lead-leg kick in the opening seconds.

The 26-year-old stunned Freire with head kick and dropped his opponent with his left hands. As Freire rose to his feet, “Mercenary” sunk in the standing guillotine choke for the victory.

“We knew it was going to be a left kick. We have video footage of me saying, quoted saying, ‘It will be a left kick, either to the body or to the head,'” McKee said. “I thought I would show him [Freire] my absolute lengthiest range, tell him if he comes forward that something tragic is going to happen.”

McKee claims the strap after improving to a perfect 18-0. Along with the title, he wins a $1,000,000 prize after conquering the Featherweight Grand Prix.

McKee previously submitted Derek Campos and former Bellator bantamweight champion Darrion Caldwell on his way to booking his spot in the tournament final.

McKee is interested in a rematch with “Pitbull,” especially if it is for the 155-pound title. McKee claims he is the best featherweight in the world, but he wants to be the king of Bellator’s lightweight division as well.

“For me, it’s to make this become two, that’s the next step,” McKee said. “Being at 145 pounds is not the easiest, maybe we can get some super fights going, but I am pretty much done with the division at 145 pounds, so hop up to 155 pounds.”

 

McKee spoke to the media in his post-fight press conference about. You can see his full interview in the video above.

For a full list of results you can click here.

AJ McKee
Image Credit: Bellator MMA

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