John Teixeira da Conceicao might need some Advil when he wakes up.
A.J. McKee moved one step closer to the top of Bellator MMA’s featherweight division, as he wiped out the Brazilian with a shovel uppercut in the first round of their Bellator 205 headliner on Friday at the CenturyLink Arena in Boise, Idaho. An unconscious da Conceicao (21-4-2, 4-3 Bellator) hit the deck 69 seconds into Round 1, finished for the first time in his 27-fight career.
McKee (12-0, 12-0 Bellator) leaned on his kicks, targeting both the head and the body. A spinning attack from the Team Bodyshop star initiated a scramble and then the punching exchange during which he cocked his left hand and landed the fight-ending blow.
Related » Bellator 205 Round-by-Round Scoring
In the middleweight co-main event, Rafael Lovato Jr. kept his perfect professional record intact by submitting John Salter with a rear-naked choke in the third round of their pivotal battle at 185 pounds. Salter (15-4, 5-1 Bellator) conceded defeat 4:27 into Round 3, as he suffered his first setback in more than six years.
After two relatively tepid rounds, the two middleweight contenders picked up the pace. Lovato (9-0, 5-0 Bellator) denied a single-leg takedown, pancaked into top position and let his otherworldly ground skills do the rest. He advanced to mount, dropping punches and elbows until Salter surrendered his back. With his prey in a kneeling position, Lovato snaked his arms in place and executed the submission.
The loss snapped Salter’s career-best seven-fight winning streak.
Meanwhile, two-time Bellator tournament finalist Patricky Freire knocked out Roger Huerta in the second round of their lightweight feature. Freire (20-8, 13-7 Bellator) brought it to a close 43 seconds into Round 2, as he recorded his fourth win in as many outings.
Huerta (24-11-1, 1-4 Bellator) tried to force the issue and was for a time successful. The One Championship and UFC veteran staggered Freire more than once in a chaotic first round that saw both men swinging for the fences with wild punches. Early in the second round, “Pitbull” wobbled Huerta with a left hook, swarmed with punches and reset. Freire then pushed his reeling counterpart toward the fence with a flying knee and uncorked a crushing right hook to the face that dropped Huerta to all fours and prompted an immediate stoppage.
The 35-year-old Huerta has lost 10 of his past 14 bouts.
Elsewhere, Combat Fitness export Veta Arteaga submitted Bellator kickboxing champion Denise Kielholtz with a standing guillotine choke in the second round of their women’s flyweight showcase. Arteaga (5-2, 3-2 Bellator) drew the curtain 4:24 into Round 2.
Kielholtz (2-2, 2-1 Bellator) peppered the Idahoan with clean two- and three-punch combinations and held her own in the clinch throughout much of the first round. However, Arteaga exposed her vulnerabilities in the scrambles. She executed a takedown in the middle stanza, settled in half guard and applied her ground-and-pound. Late in the round, Kielholtz swooped in for a takedown of her own, only to wander into the guillotine. Arteaga adjusted her grip with her back to the fence, tightened her squeeze and elicited the tapout.
In other action, Vince Morales was awarded a unanimous verdict over Justin Williams-Hugo in a three-round bantamweight encounter, drawing 30-25, 30-27 and 29-27 marks from the cageside judges; Adam Borics dispatched Josenaldo Silva with a rear-naked choke 1:46 into the third round of their featherweight pairing; Steve Mowry submitted Ben Moa with a key lock 2:40 into the first round of their heavyweight duel; Jarod Trice eked out a split decision -- 29-28, 28-29, 29-28 -- over Sean Powers in a three-round catchweight affair at 190 pounds; and Emiliano Trevino disposed of Sua Tuani with punches 1:55 into the second round of their light heavyweight clash.