FORMER FEATHERWEIGHT WORLD GRAND PRIX WINNER AND #8-RANKED 155-POUND CONTENDER WILL LOOK TO WIN HIS SECOND BELLATOR WORLD GRAND PRIX IN 2023
Los Angeles — BELLATOR MMA today announced the re-signing of No. 3-ranked pound-for-pound competitor, No. 8-ranked lightweight contender, and former BELLATOR Featherweight Champion, AJ “Mercenary” McKee (20-1) to an exclusive, multi-year, multi-fight, contract.
“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.”
McKee, 27, returns to BELLATOR as one of its finest homegrown talents and a veritable face of the promotion. The former BELLATOR Featherweight World Grand Prix tournament champion most recently represented the organization against reigning RIZIN Fighting Federation champion Roberto “Satoshi” de Souza in a thrilling unanimous decision victory to headline BELLATOR’s successful sweep on the historic New Year’s Eve BELLATOR vs. RIZIN event at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan. McKee will now be featured as one of the eight entrants to the 2023 BELLATOR Lightweight World Grand Prix, where he will vie for a championship in a second weight class and a second one-million-dollar grand prize.
The son of MMA pioneer Antonio McKee, McKee has established himself in the world of MMA with a stellar 20-1 record in his 21 fights with the promotion, McKee boasts a blistering 65% stoppage rate replete with six knockouts and seven submission victories. Included on McKee’s illustrious résumé are victories over Patricio Pitbull, de Souza, Darrion Caldwell, Pat Curran, and Georgi Karakhanyan.
He holds BELLATOR records for most consecutive victories (18), submission wins at featherweight (7), and stoppages at featherweight (13). He is tied for first in promotional record books for total finishes (13) and second for featherweight knockouts (6). In 2019, ESPN named McKee MMA’s top fighter under 25 and he followed that up in 2020 with the consensus “Submission of the Year” for his first-round neck crank, better known to many as the “McKee-o-tine” of Darrion Caldwell at BELLATOR 253.
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For more information on upcoming BELLATOR MMA events, visit BELLATOR.com.
Updated Schedule of BELLATOR Events
Fri. Feb. 4 // BELLATOR 290: Bader vs. Emelianenko 2 // Kia Forum // Los Angeles, CA
Sat. Feb. 25 // BELLATOR 291: Amosov vs. Storley 2 // 3Arena // Dublin, Ireland
BELLATOR MMA is a leading global mixed martial arts organization featuring many of the best fighters in the world. Under the direction of veteran fight promoter Scott Coker, BELLATOR events take place in major cities worldwide and can be seen on television in over 160 countries to an available audience of over one billion people. In the United States, BELLATOR can be seen on SHOWTIME. BELLATOR is comprised of an executive team that includes top industry professionals in television production, live event orchestration, fighter development/relations, venue procurement, sponsorship creation/development, international licensing, marketing, advertising, publicity, and commission relations. BELLATOR is based in Hollywood, Calif. and owned by entertainment giant Paramount, home to the world's premier entertainment brands that connect with audiences through compelling content across television, motion picture, online and mobile platforms.
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