Preview: Bellator 236 ‘Macfarlane vs. Jackson’ - McKee vs. Campos

By: Keith Shillan
Dec 20, 2019

A.J. McKee vs. Derek Campos

The quarterfinals of the Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix kick off with the showdown between McKee and Campos.

Having cut his teeth entirely in the Bellator cage, McKee flaunts a perfect 15-0 record. The second-generation fighter is a true blue-chip prospect and one of the favorites to win the entire tournament. He is a southpaw with long arms and legs. He has slick footwork and is starting to develop some real power. He can work well from behind his long jab, check hook and teep kicks. The “Mercenary’s” best weapons consist of his large arsenal of kicks, which includes a crushing high kick and a crowd-pleasing spinning back kick. The 24-year-old is also a great wrestler. He has solid timing on his entries and is phenomenal in scrambles. He uses his long limbs to sink in submissions, with anaconda and guillotine chokes being his favorites. When Pat Curran took McKee down, he got sliced up by the Bodyshop team member’s elbows from the bottom. McKee’s game is improving by leaps and bounds due to his growing confidence. He virtually predicted his eight-second knockout of Georgi Karakhanyan in his last bout.

Campos has been a part of Bellator since 2012, though the veteran fighter didn’t become a full-time fighter until his previous bout, a decision victory over former two-time featherweight champion Daniel Straus in the opening round of the Grand Prix. The win snapped a three-fight skid for the veteran. “The Stallion” is a hard-nosed brawler willing to slug it out toe-to-toe with anybody in the promotion. He loves to stand his ground and just fire off hard hooks and uppercuts, confident that his power will overwhelm his foe. While he has some serious snap on his shots, he also has some defensive flaws like keeping his hands low and his head on the center line, which has left him susceptible to being rocked or even knocked out throughout his career. His never-backdown style is usually a crowd pleasure. However, the 31-year-old took a different approach with Straus, insisting on outwrestling and landing ground strikes on the former champion en route to the winner’s circle. The Texan might be a much better competitor and prolong his career a little bit if he continues to use this strategy.

McKee is a really special talent who appears to just be beginning to scratch the surface of his potential. He has the advantage on Campos in every area and should easily get by him. I expect McKee to make quick work of the former King of the Cage lightweight champion. And just for those keeping track, I am predicting McKee to be the one standing on the top of the mountain when the Grand Prix is all said and done. McKee wins by first-round TKO via headkick.

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