Patricio Pitbull (c) and AJ McKee vie for Bellator MMA gold this summer in Los Angeles.
The finals of the featherweight world grand prix transpire on July 31st. A million dollars and Bellator’s featherweight world title await the winner of this high-stakes legacy fight set to broadcast on Showtime.
I spoke with champion and challenger alike at the Pitbull vs. McKee presser ahead of this Bellator 263 card set for The Forum in Inglewood.
AJ McKee excerpt
Your father was talking about some of the difficulties you had in your upbringing, you also were talking about reigniting the fire in the context of your fighting career.
Can you even encapsulate it and put it into words how it feels to be readying for this million-dollar Grand Prix Final title bout?
“It’s scary, you know what I mean? It’s scary because we are prepared and everything has been done right, there’s no worry there’s no concern. I mean, there’s no fear. So it’s like, for me, I was fighting with broken hands. I was just going through shit in life, you know what I mean. But never exposed that to anyone, I’m gonna just do what I got to do you know what I mean. That’s the mentality that my dad’s always put in me. Do what you got to do, don’t complain about the shit, man up. Take the way it is and keep it pushing. So at the end of the day.”
Pitbull vs. McKee presser
“I’m not really, I’m not worried you know. I’ve been preparing for this fight since the (Darrion) Caldwell fight. I already knew what Caldwell was going to do, he’s gonna come out, I was gonna hit his ass, and he’s going to go into wrestling mode. That’s exactly what happened. So, like I said, this has been the fight for 17 fights that I’ve prepared for it. He hasn’t paid attention to me for 17 fights, he’s ignored me for about 10. And then the last seven realized ‘oh shit, this kid’s the truth. Let me get prepared’. It’s not enough time, man.”
“I’m 10 fights ahead on game planning on that ass. So at the end of the day. I’m ready, just go in there man and do what I do best. I could have fought last month, I could fight right now. I could have like a year ago. You know what I mean. So I’m just ready. I’m ready, I’m glad the contract’s finally signed, I’m happy to see his name on it. And hey, we can make this a family affair ass-whooping. I don’t care, everybody can get this smoke. Because with smoke comes fire and I’m bringing it.”
Patricio Pitbull excerpt
You seemed like you had a level of respect for AJ McKee in the context of the Grand Prix field.
I’m kind of wondering how AJ McKee ranks to you in terms of just your total MMA resume and just all the fighters you’ve competed against?
“In the beginning of his career, I think it’s normal. He would face guys at a low level. But now he has fought tough guys….This year he’s training and putting all his mind that he wants my belt. And I know that. I’m watching this. So, I still (am) here. As the champion. I’m gonna still as a champion after this fight. You will see that.”
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.