A.J. McKee was as advertised in the quarterfinals of Bellator MMA’s featherweight grand prix on Saturday night.
The unbeaten Team Bodyshop product ran roughshod over Derrick Campos in the Bellator 236 co-main event at Neil S. Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu, winning via submission at the 1:08 mark of the third round. “The Mercenary” threatened his opponent in every frame. He spent much of the opening stanza on Campos’ back, hunting for a rear-naked choke that nearly materialized just before the bell. Campos survived, but he was dropped in Round 2 and had to escape a brabo choke.
The third frame saw McKee land another takedown and force a tapout from Campos when he secured an armbar in a scramble. The 24-year-old Californian was proud to showcase a variety of skills against Campos.
“I’m playing and it’s fun,” McKee said to assembled media (video courtesy of MMAjunkie.com). “I never come out and do the same thing. That’s where I just continue to evolve. Nobody knows what to expect or train for with me. One second I’ll take you down, then I’m trying to throw elbows, then I’m trying to throw spinning stuff. I’m just always trying to be different, stand out.”
McKee will next face the winner of the Adam Borics-Darrion Caldwell quarterfinal winner at some point in 2020. McKee made it clear in his post-fight interview in the cage that he has no preference in opponent, and he reiterated that point after the event. Borics and Caldwell will square off at Bellator 238 in Inglewood, Calif., on Jan. 25.
“I could give a (expletive) less, honestly,” McKee said. “I pay attention to my side. The belt’s irrelevant at that point because I’ve still got to fight until I get it. My next concern, if I had a concern about anything, is on Caldwell and Borics. I’m comfortable off my back, so Caldwell, go ahead, you can take me down. Striking-wise, I’m probably one of the most elite strikers in the game – not just Bellator.”