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A.J. McKee was supposed to take on former Bellator featherweight champion Pat Curran in September last year, but the latter pulled out and was replaced by John Teixeira da Conceicao. McKee would go on to destroy da Conceicao as well as his next opponent, Daniel Crawford inside the first round.
“The Mercenary” now has a chance to get his hands on Curran and further improve his place in the featherweight rankings while stretching his record to 14 professional wins. Ahead of their Bellator 221 bout on May 11, here are some numbers that define his brilliant, young career.
73: Inches of arm reach. McKee’s long reach continues to serve him well in MMA competition. And at 5’10”, he also has a height advantage over many of his peers at featherweight.
8: Recorded fights as an amateur, with only one defeat. McKee started with four victories before losing to future one-time World Series of Fighting standout Christian Espinosa via knockout. He followed it up with four straight victories before turning pro in 2015.
128: Seconds needed to impress Bellator fans in his promotional debut on April 10, 2015. This Bellator 136 affair was also his maiden fight in the pro ranks as he stopped Marcos Bonilla with a rear-naked choke in the very first round. His next three bouts also ended in round one.
4: Times he went the full three rounds. In all his 13 fights, McKee has heard the final bell only four times, and these were against Ray Wood, Brandon Phillips, Blair Tugman and Justin Lawrence.
5: Wins by KO or TKO. McKee is an accurate, dynamic striker who moves well and has authored a couple of vicious one-punch knockouts. He also has a landmark KO via head kick and another one with a vicious knee. His list of knockout victims include James Barnes, JT Donaldson, Danilo Belluardo, Dominic Mazzotta and da Conceicao.
4: Wins by submission. McKee is an all-around fighter, and proof of this is his good balance of knockout and submission victories. Apart from boxing, karate and kickboxing, he also has a strong background in wrestling, judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He tapped out Marcos Bonilla and Brian Moore by rear-naked choke, Cody Walker by guillotine choke, and Crawford by anaconda choke.
7: Fights that ended in the first round. McKee is a fast starter who can smell blood from afar. And he when he does, it almost always ends in a quick stoppage. He tallied early stoppages seven times, and these were against Bonilla, Barnes, Donaldson, Belluardo, Mazzotta, da Conceicao and Crawford.
4: Fights in 2017, which remains his busiest year yet. He fought three times in his debut year in 2015, as well as in 2016 and 2018.
13: Consecutive wins at Bellator. After his most recent victory at Bellator 212, he now owns the distinction of having the longest standing winning streak in the promotion’s history.