AJ McKee tests skills with Roberto de Souza at Bellator vs Rizin on December 31st.
McKee appeared on Bowks Talking Bouts and touched on several subjects related to this massive cross-promotional effort. Excerpts from our chat are below.
This fight being the actualization of a childhood dream and how this is rooted in family legacy
“The soccer kicks, the knees to the grounded opponents, these are things since I was a kid I’ve kind of dreamed of throwing. And fighting in Japan, man, it’s just surreal. It’s a dream come true and I’m looking forward to it. I’ve got to go out there and redeem my father when he broke his orbital when he fought (Shinya) Aoki. So I’m looking forward to showing the Japanese fans and their culture what the McKees are truly about.”
“It’s just something since I was a kid, I’ve always watched PRIDE. So it’s just a different ruleset. It’s a bit more barbaric. It just reminds me of those street fights. Every street fight ends with a soccer kick to the face. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”
A localized finish under the Rizin rules being the desired outcome for this NYE bout
“Definitely. If I could get a soccer kick knockout, I would be more than happy with that. That’s something on my highlight reel they’d be like oh my god, he kicked him in his face when he was down. It’s a bit more barbaric. It just shows the true instincts of the fighter when they’re in there. How you’re able to adapt under new rules, under new circumstances. Yeah, that’s what I’m geared up for and looking forward to.”
McKee’s viewpoint fighting the Rizin lightweight champion Roberto de Souza
“Honestly I hadn’t really heard anything of him or who he was. But the opportunity arose. It was the opportunity of a lifetime, you know. I didn’t care who it was or what it was. I was just intrigued with the whole dynamic of the fight. Just being able to go to Japan, fight, and put on the show for the Japanese fans, and so forth. Yeah, for me it’s going out there representing my country well, representing the organization well, and doing the best that I can do.”
Bellator vs Rizin
Thoughts on Usman Nurmagomedov cementing himself as the new Bellator lightweight champion
“It was a great performance. Can’t take nothing from that, man. He’s the champ, he’s the man with the plan. But for me, they’re all interim belts at the 155-pound division. To be a champion, you must beat a champion. Patricio was the 155-pound champ and he gifted his brother (Patricky Pitbull) that belt. A little early Christmas present but Christmas fell short for him and now Usman’s the man. For me, I would love to be the first champ Usman actually fights. He hasn’t fought a real hard-earned and hard-working champ. I think it’s the fight that everybody wants to see as well.”
“We both have great wrestling, great jiu-jitsu, and think I have the advantage on the feet. So it’s just going in there and they’re in the talks of a 155-pound tournament. So for me, a million dollars is enough motivation to go in there as a dark horse, I don’t really care. I’ll work my way up from the bottom to the top like I did last time and show everybody why I’m the best in the world. No matter weight class, nor division, or who’s in front of me.”
I’ve been enamored with combat sports for as long as I can remember. I’ve hosted MMA talk shows Lights Out and Pure Fight Radio with featured guests like Jens Pulver, Roy Nelson, Miesha Tate, Mark Coleman, and more. I’ve been an MMA broadcaster for XFFC as well as BTC and have done play by play commentary on live pay per view on GFL as well as FITE TV. I’ve provided written, audio, and video content covering some of the biggest MMA promotions like Rumble in the Cage, Unified MMA, and King of the Cage. I’ve worked as a sports entertainment personality for over five years and given play-by-play or featured promotions of KSW, ONE Championship, TKO, and Invicta FC. My work can be found in the USA Today Sports affiliate MMA Torch, Cageside Press, MMA Sucka, and Liberty Multimedia.