A.J. McKee went all out for his RIZIN debut this past weekend (Dec. 31, 2022).
The former Bellator Featherweight champion is accustomed to getting unique walkouts in his promotion, but for his first fight in a Japanese mixed martial arts (MMA) environment, it was time to up the ante. McKee walked to the ring bodied up in full-on samurai gear directly before colliding with RIZIN Lightweight kingpin, Roberto “Satoshi” de Souza.
According to the “Mercenary,” the armor wasn’t cheap.
“I did a little bit of research [to find the armor], man. 100 large ($100,000).” McKee told The Underground. “I spent a nice little penny on that bad boy.
“It’s some legendary s—t. I’ll probably never sell it,” he continued. “I had all the guys sign the book so I’m gonna cut each piece out of the book, frame that up, put my gloves and my wraps in like a little four-by-four. Put that behind it, the samurai suit will stand up with the trophy in front of it. That’ll be something in my mancave. My first fight ever in Japan. I went and bought a bunch of armor, come on now. Who spends 100 bands on armor? Whatever I do, dude, I do it to the fullest. Some things come with a cost. Scared money don’t make money.”
Having won the $1 million Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix in 2021 to become champion, McKee, obviously, has the cash to throw around for special occasions.
McKee and Satoshi headlined RIZIN 40 on New Year’s Eve, going the distance in a competitive three-round non-title affair. In the end, McKee (20-1) avoided several troubling positions on the ground to pull off the victory via unanimous decision (watch highlights), advancing to 2-0 as a Lightweight. The win concluded Bellator’s sweeping of RIZIN with five wins in the five head-to-head match ups on the night.