The biggest event in MMA and the combat sports world this weekend was not a UFC event or even a boxing event.
Bellator 263 took place Saturday night live on Showtime from The Forum in Inglewood, California. Bellator’s first show back in front of a live audience was main-evented by AJ McKee vs. Patricio “Pitbull” Freire in the championship match of the Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix, a matchup that was one of the most highly anticipated matchups in Bellator’s history.
Going into the fight, Pitbull was Bellator’s only current double champion, holding both the Featherweight and Lightweight championships. Pitbull first won the Bellator Featherweight championship in 2014, and has gone on to become one of, it not the most dominant figure in the entire promotion since then, eventually becoming the Lightweight champion as well. After beating Pedro Carvalho and Emmanuel Sanchez in the Featherweight Grand Prix, Pitbull came into the finals defending his title and looking for a new challenge.
Enter AJ McKee. One of the hottest rising prospects in MMA, Bellator’s AJ McKee was red hot coming into this showdown for the Featherweight championship. McKee would beat Derek Campos in the opening round of the tournament and go on to defeat Darrion Caldwell in the semi-finals via a submission that had never been seen before and win awards for submission of the year.
How The Fight Played Out
Coming in red hot at an undefeated 17-0, experts were calling the matchup between the challenger McKee and champion Pitbull one of the hardest decisions of the year. However, the fight wouldn’t last long.
Just 1:57 into the first round, McKee would finish Pitbull via a standing guillotine choke. After rocking Pitbull on the feet, McKee would prematurely celebrate briefly thinking he had knocked the champion out, only to quickly go back in and finish with the standing choke.
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The 18-0 McKee is now the new Featherweight champion of Bellator, winning the belt along with the $1,000,000 prize that comes along with winning the Featherweight Grand Prix.
The Rest Of The Card
Also featured on the Bellator 263 card was a familiar name, Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Khabib was featured in his new role as a coach, though. Coaching his teammate Islam Mamedov and his cousin Usman Nurmagomedov to wins.
Bellator’s next event is Bellator 264 on Friday, August 13 from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT.