Fight Facts: Bellator 253

By: Jay Pettry
Nov 23, 2020

Fight Facts is a breakdown of all of the interesting information and cage curiosities on every card, with some puns, references and portmanteaus to keep things fun. These deep stat dives delve into the numbers, providing historical context and telling the stories behind those numbers.

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Bellator MMA staged its first semifinal of the featherweight grand prix just days after the other semifinal was matched up at Bellator 253. An otherwise decision-heavy card was bolstered by a shocking finish in the main event. This event featured a litany of records met or set by the victor in the headliner, a well-traveled vet that joined a small cross-promotional group and a young “Maori Kid” smashing his way through opponents.

Seriously, Don’t Call Him Junior: A.J. McKee is now a perfect 17-0 after tapping out Darrion Caldwell in the first round. The featherweight grand prix finalist now posts a stoppage rate of 71 percent, with finishes in five of his last six bouts.

Sir Bellator: McKee holds the longest win streak in Bellator history, as all 17 of his career bouts have taken place under the Bellator banner.

A Record That May Never Be Broken: In addition to his Bellator record, McKee’s consecutive win streak is the longest in major MMA promotional history in a single organization. Anderson Silva previously held that record along with McKee, as Silva won 16 straight fights in the Ultimate Fighting Championship before losing to Chris Weidman.

Apple Fell Far from the Tree: By finishing Caldwell, McKee tied Patricio Freire – who earned a stoppage last week – for the second-most finishes in Bellator history with 12. Michael Chandler (13) stands above for now.

Why Involve the Judges? The stoppage coming at 1:11 of the opening frame, McKee recorded his ninth first-round finish on the Bellator roster. Chandler is the only one with more, as “Iron Mike” ended 10 foes in the first round before departing.

Blazing Speed: On five separate occasions including this event, McKee has put his opponent away within two minutes. Several other fighters have done this four times, but McKee is the first to make it five.

Chasing Gracie: McKee’s submission win was his sixth in Bellator, joining seven other fighters with that tally. Only Neiman Gracie (seven) and Goiti Yamauchi (eight) have notched more with the company.

And He’s Only 25: McKee is the second fighter in company history – Chandler was the first – to score at least six submissions and six knockouts in the Bellator cage.

Fear the McKeeotine: The submission for McKee was a modified neck crank with a crucifix position from his guard, and it has been colloquially referred to as the “McKeeotine.” This is the first time that unorthodox maneuver has been landed in Bellator history.

Give Me Tong Pitbull! All of McKee’s 17 victories have taken place at featherweight. Despite this, he does not yet hold the record for the most wins in divisional history – that distinction goes to Freire, whom he may meet at the end of this tournament.

10 For Ben: Albeit in a losing effort as he lost a decision to Jason Jackson, Benson Henderson is one of a small number of fighters in MMA history that have competed at least ten times with Bellator and the UFC. Henderson joins Ben Saunders, Cheick Kongo and Phil Davis.

Bodyshop Is Not A One-Fighter Team: Joey Davis is now a perfect 8-0 after taking a decision over Bobby Lee. Like his Team Bodyshop teammate McKee, all eight bouts for “Black Ice” have come inside the Bellator cage.

Full-Time Fighter: For the fifth fight in a row, Jaleel Willis has needed to rely on the judges to get his hand raised. Willis returned to Bellator after a four-year absence to take home a decision over Mark Lemminger. Each of Willis’ last eight wins have come by decision.

The Grappler Can Punch: In only 20 seconds, Jay-Jay Wilson smashed Sergio de Bari to earn the knockout. The Kiwi is now 7-0 as a pro, with all but one of his fights taking place with Bellator. “The Maori Kid” has stopped six of those seven opponents inside the distance, including five in Round 1.

Past Baby’s Bedtime: For the first time in his career, Kevin Ferguson Jr. fought beyond the 3:00 mark of the second round. Kaheem Murray captured a unanimous decision over “Baby Slice.”

Like A Dream You Just Can’t Wake Up From: Although Murray had once gone the distance back in 2018, his win over Ferguson Jr. marked the first time that “The Dream” had ever beaten an opponent on the scorecards. Each of his past wins came by knockout within two rounds.

Never Say Never Again: Coming into Bellator 253, Lemminger (13 fights) had never lost consecutive bouts, De Bari had never been finished (six fights) and Ferguson Jr. had never lost on the scorecards (six fights).

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