Leaving the outskirts of Uncasville, Bellator travels to where the stars shine the brightest: Los Angeles. They kick off their 2021 debut in the City of Angels with their most anticipated fight to date. Featherweight & Lightweight Champion Patricio “Pitbull” Freire will defend his Featherweight championship against AJ “Mercenary” McKee Jr. in the penultimate matchup of the Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix.
The winner will not only leave with the Bellator Featherweight Championship, but they will also add the World Grand Prix Championship and a cool $1 million to their mantle, verifying their status as the one to come out of the dog pile with the spoils of riches. Thus, this fight will decide whether a chapter of a possible bygone era continues or whether old will stay gold.
Patricio Pitbull: A Perilous Path
Patricio “Pitbull” Freire rose from the favelas of Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, to become one of Bellator’s greatest gladiators to step in the cage for them. He debuted more than a decade ago, defeating William Romero and handed him his first pro loss as well. Thus, this would kickstart one of the most fantastic runs seen in Bellator history.
Overcoming every obstacle put in front of him, claiming titles, records, glory, and now facing his most prominent threat to date in AJ McKee Jr, Pitbull has never feared any man. He proved that when he beat former 3x Bellator Lightweight champion and former UFC Lightweight title challenger “Iron” Michael Chandler in a mere matter of a minute. That crowning lightweight win elevated him to the status of Double Champion in Bellator.
With Chandler setting out to UFC pastures, Pitbull looks to end the rocketship of hype that is McKee Jr. and crown himself the Face of Bellator at Bellator 263. Freire has had many people doubt him due to his more diminutive physical stature. But with each passing fight, the Brazilian seems to take all the critique and silenced them.
AJ McKee Jr. isn’t your ordinary #1 contender and will challenge Pitbull to the utmost limit in every aspect of the fight. Saturday night will define the epitome of Patricio Pitbull’s legacy and career. Only the Double Champ can write whether it will be a crowning achievement or not.
AJ McKee Jr.: A Mercenary’s Mindset
The McKee family name has always been in the MMA spotlight. Antonio McKee made his career with fights against Ray Cooper Jr., Karo Parisyan, Shinya Aoki. He capped it with a victory against William Sriyapai at Bellator 228 in 2019 (Which ironically had Pitbull main event for the beginning of the current Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix *eerie howl*).
Now, The father has let the son carry the banner and burden of the family name. AJ “Mercenary” McKee Jr. has been near perfect in his combat sports career. He last tasted defeat against a young Christian Espinosa in an amateur bout. He then polished himself and set himself on a path that would result in him being touted as the next world champion in Bellator.
An undefeated pro run highlighted by magical submission wins and swift deadly knockouts; the “Mercenary” has all the weapons in the arsenal to go to war with the formidable and imposing Brazilian champ. Next, the Featherweight Grand Prix run highlighted by his self-dubbed “McKee-otine” against Darrion Caldwell for AJ McKee Jr.
Finally, he looks to cap the tournament by defeating one of Bellator’s most remarkable fighters, becoming a champion, winning $1 million, and completing the dream he and his father set out to achieve.
Bellator 263: Notorious & Eerie Echo
With Bellator having the co-main and main event Press Conference on Thursday, things were already hot, and the piquant banter at the end just rippled to an echo in the past brought to the present. An eerie echo to when the “Notorious” Conor McGregor stole the championship belt of the undefeated Brazilian champion at the time, Jose Aldo.
Patricio might not know it, but he could be walking down the unfortunate path of déjà vu. Or can he break the chains of fate and continue the chapter of his dominance in Bellator? This fight is so evenly matched up; it’s hard to see who truly has the advantage. As a result, this fight will come down to a split-second decision-a moment in the cage that will tell the tale of the battle.
What do you guys think? Will this fight have a swift result? Or will there be blood and guts spewed on the canvas?