A.J. McKee passed his latest test but not without considerable difficulty.
The undefeated Team Bodyshop prospect submitted Brian Moore with a rear-naked choke in the third round of their Bellator 187 headliner on Friday at 3Arena in Dublin. Moore (10-6, 1-2 Bellator) conceded defeat 4:14 into Round 3, as the Irishman lost for the second time in three outings.
Not all went swimmingly for McKee (10-0, 10-0 Bellator), who sustained a cut above his right eye. Moore ratcheted up his aggression in the middle stanza and staggered the Californian with a clean right cross. McKee bounced back, floored the SBG Ireland representative early in the third round and maneuvered onto his back. From there, he secured the choke and prompted the tapout.
Moore’s SBG Ireland stablemate fared far better in the co-main event, as Sinead Kavanagh took care of an overmatched Maria Casanova with first-round punches in their pairing at 145 pounds. Kavanagh (5-2, 2-2 Bellator) cut down her French counterpart with a sizzling right hand, trailed her to the canvas and achieved full mount. Heavy punches fell next and resulted in the stoppage, saddling Casanova (3-6-1, 0-1 Bellator) with her third consecutive defeat.
Meanwhile, Charlie Ward wiped out journeyman John Redmond with punches in the first round of their middleweight feature. Ward (4-3, 0-1 Bellator) set the tone with an early takedown, absorbed some punishment when they returned to their feet and connected with the fight-ending blow during a wild exchange. Redmond (7-13, 0-1 Bellator) bowed out 4:59 into Round 1. In the aftermath, Ward’s teammate, Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight titleholder Conor McGregor, climbed into the cage and physically confronted referee Marc Goddard. The two men were quickly separated, but McGregor’s antics overshadowed his teammate’s triumph.
In other action, Kevin Ferguson Jr. (2-1, 2-1 Bellator), aka “Baby Slice,” submitted Fred Freeman (1-1, 0-1 Bellator) with a rear-naked choke 1:57 into the first round of their catchweight clash at 165 pounds; and Paul Redmond (14-7, 1-0 Bellator) captured a unanimous decision from Sergio de Jesus Santos (4-6, 0-1 Bellator) in a three-round catchweight encounter at 161 pounds, drawing 29-27 marks across the board.