A.J. McKee will be fighting for Bellator MMA for the foreseeable future and beyond because the former Featherweight champion of the world has inked a new multi-fight, multi-year contract with the Viacom-owned mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion.
Bellator announced the news via a press release:
“Our top priority has always been to cultivate talent from the ground up, and with AJ [McKee] I can proudly say we have witnessed this young man blossom into a bonafide superstar in the BELLATOR cage,” said President Scott Coker.
“It’s also our priority to retain top talent, and with AJ entering the prime of his career, it was important to make sure he continued representing the BELLATOR brand, much like he did recently in Japan, for the foreseeable future. I am looking forward to AJ’s next challenge, an appearance in our 2023 BELLATOR Lightweight World Grand Prix, which showcases the best 155-pounders in the world.”
Locking in McKee — who will turn 28 in April — was a no-brainer because he has quickly become one of the faces of the company. With a record of 20-1, all but one of those fights took place inside the Bellator cage. His most recent victory came under the RIZIN banner, defeating Lightweight champion, Roberto de Souza, via unanimous decision at the historic “RIZIN vs Bellator MMA” event in Saitama, Japan (highlights) on New Year’s Eve.
That victory was his second straight in the 155-pound division after the previous six years of his professional MMA career were spent fighting at 145 pounds. “The Mercenary” reached the top of the game in July 2021 by submitting Patricio Freire via first-round submission at Bellator 263 to win the title. He eventually lost to “Pitbull” in the rematch, though he still has his sights set on a trilogy fight.
Currently ranked No. 3 on the pound-for-pound list, McKee will take part in the promotion’s Lightweight Grand Prix, which will kick off in the first quarter of 2023, in hopes of winning not only his second Grand Prix tournament and title in a new division, but his second $1 million paycheck.
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