Maximum Fighting Championship (MFC) veteran Antonio McKee (25-3-2) will make his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) debut against Jacob Volkmann (11-2) at UFC 125: "Resolution" from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Jan. 1, 2011.
It took 30 professional bouts, but "Mandingo" will finally get his chance to make an impact with the world's largest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion.
"Back in those days I used to kick their ass too. A lot of people get mad at me. They think I'm cocky and arrogant. They don't realize I'm just so damn convinced that I'm the best that there is and this is my way of displaying that by telling people the truth. People don't like the truth, they want you to lie to them. I'm not lying."
"Mandingo" had a rough time growing up, having numerous run-ins with the law. McKee explains what happened during those times.
"It starts out as just being a real man. I was very immature coming up. I was brought up in the streets. I was collecting money from drug dealers and then eventually I got into (being a) bodyguard and doing little bits of crime here and there to pay my mom's rent and put clothes on my sister's back. I was raised in the wrong environment."
With his UFC debut approaching, things have changed for the better.
McKee found his opportunity in MMA with his background in wrestling. He describes how he made the transition.
"I was watching a little TV, I opened a chain of retail stores. Some guys came into my shop and we ended up moving furniture out the way and we got in a little scuffle. They said let's start on our knees. Next thing you know, I'm rolling with a 200-pound guy who's putting me in triangles and armbars and I'm picking him up and throwing him around and I'm basically tapping out. It was real fun for me and I thought that I got my ass kicked, but they thought I was doing a great job."
With wins over respected names such as Toby Imada, Marcus Aurelio and Carlo Prater, McKee knows what it takes to compete against skilled fighters. He also knows that the longer you're in the sport, the more cautious you have to be.
"I believe that people are realizing the longevity of this sport and when you have longevity as a fighter, you better take cautions to fighting a little bit different."
McKee was under heavy criticism for not finishing fights. In fact, in his 25 wins, McKee has gone the distance 18 times. Those critics were silenced when "Mandingo" delivered on his promise that was going to finish Luciano
Azevedo. He explains why he made the promise.
"Every fighter should be judged on his last fight. My last fight I did exactly what I said I was gonna do. I stopped him in the first round, there was no retirement for me. He (Azevedo) pissed the ninja off. He said I was old, said I was senile, I was delusional. He had me so damn mad. My sister called me after the fight. She said ‘who pissed you off?' I was like ‘why you say that?' She said ‘your back was rolled over and when you're mad that's what happens, your back curls over the top.' He had me so damn mad, I wanted to crush his skull."
With 25 wins under his belt, McKee knew it was finally time to make a run in the UFC.
"I said ‘hey Joe (Silva) I really belong here and I'm looking at these guys and I'll walk right through these guys.' Look at these guys that are champions, they're wrestlers. They're not exciting, you can't market those guys. Antonio is a serious entertainer. People like me. You won't believe how many people I got hitting me up on fan mail. I'm a superstar in the ghetto."
While McKee has had success in the MMA world, he isn't too fond of the shady business that he had to go through before signing with the UFC.
"A lot of these organizations that I fought for didn't really pay. If I go out there and tear my knee, break my jaw or hurt myself, who's gonna pay my bills? Who's gonna tell my kids that the show that I fought for didn't have no money, because I've fought for shows and still haven't got paid. These shows are sanctioned by the commission and the commission is giving these guys the opportunity to do these shows, but why aren't you making sure that the fighters get paid?"
While McKee respects his opponent, he believes Volkmann will be in for a rude awakening on Jan. 1.
"He's 30 years old, I'm a veteran in this sport. He better bring his A game. I think Volkmann is a great guy. I looked into his family life, I looked into his history, his college wrestling. He's a great guy, but he's in the wrong place at the wrong damn time."
"Mandingo" fears for Volkmann's health at UFC 125.
"I'm gonna come in and press my will on this guy and I hope it doesn't get to the point of me having to split his face open or bust him up real bad. There won't be ‘Christmas' for me this year baby, I'm celebrating Kwanzaa. We're gonna have to start his new year off right with a new life, new career. He's gonna have to go back to being a chiropractor."
Will "Mandingo's" prediction come true? Tune in to UFC 125: "Resolution" on Jan. 1, 2011 on pay-per-view to find out.