Bellator 187: “McKee vs. Moore” takes place Fri., Nov. 10, 2017 at 3Arena in Dublin, Ireland. The main event will see an undefeated “Mercenary” at Featherweight take on a local favorite from Wexford who won his last Bellator fight by TKO.
To capitalize on local appeal for this international card Bellator has booked a slew of Straight Blast Gym fighters. Originally James Gallagher was scheduled to be one of them but he’s been sidelined by injury for six to eight weeks so everyone has to make do without him this go around.
Let’s break it down:
145 lbs.: A.J. McKee (9-0) vs. Brian Moore (10-5)
Ask “Mercenary” A.J. McKee and he’ll say this fight is all about supply and demand. There’s some truth in that given that Bellator lost their featured undefeated Featherweight for this card, and the only person with a comparable record IS McKee, so naturally he was in high demand for this card. Blair Tugman gave him a fair challenge at Bellator 182, but McKee cruised to a unanimous decision and moved to 9-0 in the process. With five first round finishes and 66% of his fights (six out of nine) not going to the judges, he’s on a short list of contenders to vie for the belt.
While he’s waiting for “Pitbull vs. Weichel 2” next week to find out who the champion is, “The Pikeman” Brian Moore will give him a challenge to stay busy. Although he was outmatched as a late replacement against Daniel Weichel last December, he successfully rebounded from that performance to beat Michal Horejsi by TKO at Bellator 177 in April. The SBG Ireland fighter has a pretty good track record as a finisher with only two out of his 10 wins going to a decision.
The physical advantages for McKee though are hard to ignore. McKee stands 5’10” while Moore is only 5’8”, and almost assuredly weighs far more than his opponent when he’s fully hydrated. He trains at the Body Shop with young hungry fighters like Aaron Pico and Kevin Ferguson Jr., and clearly benefits from his father Antonio McKee’s experience when you watch him grapple with and out wrestle his opponents. Moore is talented but inconsistent - lose two, win two, lose one, win one. As an undefeated fighter “consistent” could be McKee’s middle name if it wasn’t already “Mercenary.” Moore will have the crowd on his side, but McKee will have everything else.
Final prediction: A.J. McKee wins via rear naked choke in round one
185 lbs.: Charlie Ward (3-3) vs. John Redmond (7-12)
At first glance this may seem a curious fight to feature on Spike given neither man has an exceptionally stellar record. Ward had two UFC fights and got knocked out in both leading up to this Bellator debut. Redmond has lost five of his last seven, and coincidentally he’s been knocked out five times and submitted seven times. There’s just one real reason for this fight and it’s local star power. Ward is another Straight Blast Gym fighter, Redmond is the hometown boy from Dublin, and these two will go out and have a craic for the fans in attendance. Although I’m tempted to pick the fighter with more pro experience, his sub-500 record suggests to me that Ward will go out and prove himself better than his UFC run.
Final prediction: Charlie Ward wins a unanimous decision
165 lbs.: Kevin Ferguson Jr. (1-1) vs. Fred Freeman (1-0)
After an inauspicious start in his Bellator debut, “Baby Slice” Ferguson rebounded with a strong showing at Bellator 179, proving he’s ready to continue a career in the spotlight as he looks to step out of his father’s shadow. Fighting at a catch weight seems to be to his benefit as he stands 5’11”, an inch taller than his Featherweight teammate McKee, while the most generous assessment of Freeman I can find puts him at 5’9” and 154 lbs. The good news for Freeman is that he won his one and only fight by TKO, so he needs to just go out and let his hands go. I don’t think it’s going to help him but that’s his best chance in this bout.
Final prediction: Kevin Ferguson Jr. wins by second round TKO
145 lbs.: Sinead Kavanagh (4-2) vs. Maria Casanova (2-4-1)
We’ve got one last fight set for Spike and one more SBG Ireland fighter for the card in Sinead Kavanagh. After a promising 4-0 start Kavanagh has faltered of late, dropping two in a row including a split decision at Bellator 182. They could hardly have picked a better opponent for her to turn things around with given Casanova has dropped four in a row coming into this show. The bad news for Kavanagh is that she’s only been finished once (by submission) so even as a mediocre fighter she’s at least tough and durable. Still if Kavanagh shows off the striking technique we first saw at Bellator 169 this should be an easy match-up for her to win.
Final prediction: Sinead Kavanagh takes a unanimous decision
That’s a wrap!
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