- AJ McKee scored a first-round submission over Patricio Freire last weekend.
- This victory earned McKee Bellator’s featherweight championship of the world.
- Scott Coker believes that major Pay-Per-Views are likely coming in the future of AJ McKee.
Over the weekend, the 26-year-old AJ McKee proved he is one of the best prospects in all of MMA by earning a first-round submission over Patricio Freire. He seems to be truly elite and has some intriguing matchups on the horizon. This week, Bellator President Scott Coker spoke more about the future of AJ McKee.
AJ’s win over Freire was one of the best performances in MMA this year. Many fans believe he has the potential to beat some of the UFC’s top fighters. Now is a great time to talk about some of the possible future opponents for AJ.
Let’s get into it!
AJ McKee Scores a First-Round Submission Over Patricio Freire
In many ways, Bellator MMA takes a different approach with its fighters than the UFC. Rather than throw its fighters to the wolves right off the bat, this promotion chooses to slowly build them. That is certainly the strategy that Bellator took with AJ McKee.
AJ made his Bellator and MMA debut back in April of 2015. He immediately found success, racking up ten-straight wins over lower-level competition. After his tenth victory, Bellator has been slowly giving him tougher and tougher opponents.
This past weekend, McKee was given a shot at Patricio Freire’s featherweight title. He came into the fight with a perfect 18-0 record. Freire is elite, however, and most online sports betting sites had the odds for this bout listed extremely close.
On fight night, it became clear who was stepping into the cage more prepared. McKee landed a devastating head kick around a minute-and-a-half into the first round. He swarmed Freire with punches before latching onto a guillotine choke to earn the victory. You can check out a clip of his victory below.
— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) August 1, 2021
This victory solidified AJ McKee as one of the best featherweight fighters in all of MMA. He seems interested in making a jump to the lightweight division in the future, as well. Fans are already looking ahead to possible super-fights involving the 145-pound king.
Just about everyone seems impressed with McKee’s skills right now. That includes Scott Coker, who spoke about what could come next for his newest champion to the media over the weekend.
Here’s What Scott Coker Thinks About the Future of AJ McKee
Bellator has slowly developed an entire roster of exciting young phenoms. AJ McKee has now reached the top of the promotion’s featherweight division. He didn’t sustain any damage in his first title bout and seems okay with the idea of competing again in the near future.
There are plenty of exciting challenges left for him at featherweight. Of course, he has already defeated many of these 145-pound contenders. Some believe that now is the right time for him to move up in weight in an attempt to become a double champion for the promotion.
AJ is certainly big enough to find success at lightweight. There are some very dangerous opponents for him in the 155-pound weight class, though. Scott Coker spoke to the media about the future of AJ McKee and seems confident that the 26-year-old will soon become a major draw.
“There is a plan in place, for sure,” Coker said. “Next year we are looking to do some specials with CBS and their parent network, but right now I just want to enjoy this moment and A.J. enjoy this moment, but him fighting on big CBS I’m sure CBS would love it. I’m sure A.J. would love it. I’m sure it would be good for everybody. So it’s possible, and I’m sure that Showtime would love to have him fight on Showtime and who knows, maybe he can become not just a linear star but a cable star and he can just take it from there. Pay-per-view is a possibility. He told me he wants to box, so we’ll see. Maybe he can fight one of the Paul brothers one day.”
Bellator can now begin to truly invest in AJ McKee. He has a big personality and one of the most exciting fighting styles in all of MMA. It’s not a surprise to hear that Scott Coker is already flirting with the idea of Pay-Per-Views involving the featherweight king.
Hopefully, the idea of AJ boxing one of the Paul brothers is a joke. There are plenty of great opponents in MMA for him to face in the near future.
Who Will McKee Fight Next?
AJ McKee had a tremendous amount of pressure on his shoulders heading into his fight with Patricio Freire. As many are aware, Freire was Bellator’s top pound-for-pound fighter and has wins over a huge number of elite fighters. McKee rose to the occasion and finished the champion inside of one round.
Whether or not this will make AJ McKee Bellator’s new pound-for-pound king remains to be seen. There is no doubt he will find himself high in the rankings, though. Officials within Bellator are now likely trying to decide the next-best opponent for McKee.
A fight against Mads Burnell would certainly be an interesting one for fans. Burnell recently scored a decision win over Emmanuel Sanchez on the same card as McKee vs. Freire. He is an expert grappler and could present some problems for AJ on the mat.
Adam Borics is another exciting featherweight that AJ McKee could face off against. Borics has looked incredible in Bellator, going 8-1 since his debut in 2018. He is one of the best finishers at featherweight right now.
If Bellator wants to make things really fun, they could even decide to book McKee vs. Aaron Pico in the future. Pico has faced some setbacks during his career, yet is without a doubt one of the most skilled fighters in the promotion. He has won his past four bouts and is now beginning to near title contention. We’ll be sure to offer updates on the future of AJ McKee over the next few months.
Were you impressed with AJ McKee’s win over Patricio Freire last weekend? Who do you want to see him take on next? Let us know in the comments section below!