Darrion Caldwell and A.J. McKee are ready to vie for a berth in the championship round of Bellator MMA’s featherweight grand prix.
Both Caldwell and McKee made weight without issue on Wednesday ahead of their headlining clash at Bellator 253. Caldwell tipped the scales at 144.7 pounds for the five-round bout, while McKee checked in at 144.8. The Caldwell-McKee winner will eventually square off against the winner of the Patricio Freire-Emmanuel Sanchez bout in the finals of the tournament with 145-pound gold on the line.
Bellator 253 takes place on Thursday at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut and will also see Benson Henderson (170) make his return to welterweight against Jason Jackson (170) in the co-main event. The main card airs on CBS Sports Network and Dazn at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT, while the prelims stream on Bellator’s YouTube channel and Dazn at 4:15 p.m. ET/1:15 p.m. PT.
Caldwell, a former bantamweight title holder, advanced to the semifinals with a decision win over Henry Corrales at Bellator 228 and a first-round submission of Adam Borics at Bellator 238. The former NCAA national champion wrestler at North Carolina State University owns notable victories against the likes of Noad Lahat, Leandro Higo, Eduardo Dantas and Joe Warren.
McKee, meanwhile, has compiled a 16-0 career mark while competing exclusively under the Bellator MMA banner. “Mercenary” advanced to the semifinals with an eight-second KO of Georgi Karakhanyan in the first round and a third-round submission of Derek Campos in the semifinals. The 25-year-old has also bested the likes of Pat Curran, John Teixeira and Justin Lawrence during his promotional tenure.
Bellator 253 Weigh-in Results:Darrion Caldwell (144.7) vs. A.J. McKee (144.8)
Benson Henderson (170) vs. Jason Jackson (170)
Joey Davis (168.8) vs. Bobby Lee (170)
Raufeon Stots (135.2) vs. Keith Lee (136)
Jeremy Kennedy (145.5) vs. Matt Bessette (145.6)
Jaleel Willis (170) vs. Mark Lemminger (170.5)
Jay-Jay Wilson (145.7) vs. Sergio de Bari (144.7)
Kevin Ferguson Jr. (154.7) vs. Kaheem Murray (154.)
Sullivan Cauley (205) vs. Jason Markland (204.2)
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