After thrashing Patricio "Pitbull" Freire at Saturday's Bellator 263, newly crowned featherweight champion A.J. McKee let the world that he's on top of the 145-pound mountain.
During his post-fight press conference, the 26-year-old went as far as to challenge anyone in the UFC, PFL, and ONE Championship to prove him wrong and added an extra caveat to the offer.
“I am the best 145-pounder in the world. Whether it’s UFC, ONE FC, PFL, I don’t care who it is,” McKee boasted. “I’ve got a $1 million cash (for winning the featherweight grand prix) in my bank. I’m willing to put that up against anybody else.
“I’m sure Showtime, Bellator, they’ll match it. Let’s do some superfights. Let’s get some big stuff going. Let’s change this sport as we know it. Unify these belts.”
McKee's (18-0) impressive performance sent shockwaves throughout the MMA world. When asked at the presser who the most formidable foe would be out of UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski, former 145-pound titlist Max Holloway, and Volkanovski's challenger at UFC 266 Brian Ortega, McKee immediately shot back, "none of them". A moment later, McKee thought of a name.
“I would say Max Holloway,” McKee said. “That was always my dream fight, superfight, as a kid. I’ve watched him just pick apart people. But at the end of the day, I’m the best 145-pounder in the world. I don’t care who it is. I’m going to show up and show out every time.”
While Bellator has partnered up with other organizations, the UFC's very rarely done cross-promotions. For example, in the early 2000s, they lent over Chuck Liddell to participate in the PRIDE middleweight grand prix and Conor McGregor to box Floyd Mayweather Jr. in August 2017. But the UFC has never given an inclination to do anything with Bellator.
If a Holloway showdown fails to come to fruition, then McKee has another goal.
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“Champ-champ,” McKee said. “Technically, [the Bellator featherweight title and Bellator grand prix title] are one. So for me, it’s to become two. Being at 145 pounds isn’t the easiest. Maybe we get some superfights going, but I’m pretty much done with the division at 145 pounds.
“So, hop up to 155 pounds – who’s the best 145er? Was the best. I’ve pretty much been saying it. Now people are believing it.”