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Bellator 212’s AJ McKee is the hook, while his opponent, Daniel Crawford, is the bait

AJ McKee interview

Bellator 212: “Salute the Troops” goes down at Neal S. Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu, Hawaii. this weekend (Fri., Dec. 14, 2018), featuring a heavily anticipated main event that will see the undefeated Brent Primus (8-0) look to stay perfect in a Lightweight title rematch against “Iron” Michael Chandler (18-4) on a show free for armed forces live in attendance and around the globe.

While our men and women in uniform work at the behest of the government, “Mercenary” A.J. McKee (12-0) is in his own employ and ready to deploy whenever Bellator MMA calls. This week, he will be called upon to face English fighter Daniel Crawford (10-2). With his quick first round finish of “Macapa” John Teixeira at Bellator 205, the undefeated Team Body Shop phenom once again reminded us that he has no peers other than his training partners and that he’s “ready to look flossy” with “a nice belt around my waist.”

McKee recently spoke with MMAmania.com about his upcoming bout at Bellator 212 in Hawaii and how he feels it has flown a little bit under the radar until now.

“I’ve known, I think we’ve both known (we’d fight) for about a month, month and a half. Yeah I wish the people knew more about it. But hey! They’ll know about it after I go in there tango, and sock up some saucy mango sauce you know?”

Although Crawford is an experienced BAMMA fighter he lost his Bellator debut by split decision in May and hadn’t been seen again until now. McKee has studied up on his game.

“I watched him win against a southpaw and lose against a southpaw, so I kind of got to see both styles and how he does on his feet. I look forward to just going out there, you know focusing on what I normally do, and that’s putting on a good show for everyone.”

With five of McKee’s 12 wins coming by knockout and six of Crawford’s 10 coming the same way, there’s every chance of this fight turning into an exciting stand-up affair.

“Yeah it’s gonna be a fun one man! I look forward to going out there and putting on a show you know? He likes to let the hands go, I like to let the hands go, so let’s get the fireworks going.”

Is it necessarily the fight he wanted? No. Will McKee make this most of it anyway? Yes.

“Definitely! I feel for me it’s another fight. You can’t knock anyone because a fight’s a fight you know? At the end of the day all it takes is one punch so much respect to him, I thank him for taking the fight. I just look forward to doing what I do. You know I love to entertain my friends, my fans and my family. At the end of the day this is how I take care of MY family so it’s going to be fun you know? Until we sit down and talk, and we see how things play out, it’s just continuing to knock people out and kick ass and take names and build a record.”

Fighting Crawford may be fun for McKee in the short term, but it’s hard to forget his singular focus on getting to “Pitbull” Patricio Freire and taking the Featherweight title from him.

“I look forward to it you know? Maybe we can come back home sometime. I haven’t fought home here in Los Angeles in a while. Come back here and bring Patricio to L.A. and I’ll welcome him and show him around a little.”

Feel free to interpret “show him around” any way you like. In any case it’s a shame that fight can’t happen January 26th at The Forum.

“I would have LOVED to have been on that card. Man that’s an amazing card to get on. There’s a lot of good big names on there. It’s a big card you know? Bellator’s doing really good with putting together big shows, so I really look forward to stepping up and headlining and being that big show with my skill set.”

McKee has already headlined multiple Bellator cards, even in different countries, so having a five round main event for the world title may be the only thing he hasn’t done.

“It’s time to get that strap man. I say it’s inevitable you know? But this is MMA as a career and you never know how things go you know? In the middle of a fight you can tear your ACL and you’re out for a year. So it’s just making sure my I’s and my T’s are dotted (and crossed) so that I go in there as healthy as I can be and I just do what I do best.”

In no way is McKee looking past Crawford though. He’s well aware that the Englishman will be doing his best to avenge a loss his last time out and have McKee take the fall.

“For him it’s a smart fight to take you know? He doesn’t lose anything and he doesn’t win anything. If he loses it’s what — another number on his record? But he can gain everything in the world. So for me it makes sure — it puts me on guard you know? ‘Hey, what does he have to lose? Make sure you’re out there and you’re on your A game’ you know? Any little fluke and that can mean the end of it.”

Even though McKee doesn’t know what time his fight will air during “Salute the Troops” on the 14th he guarantees he’s “the hook” for you to watch whenever his fight takes place.

“I’m always the hook you know? Whether (or not) I finish him with a hook — but hey! It’s gonna be a hook you know? We’re gonna hook ESPN, Worldstar, SportsCenter Top 10, we’re gonna hook everyone you know? We’re gonna make sure it’s entertaining and that’s what it’s all about.”

Complete audio of our interview is embedded above, and complete coverage of “Salute the Troops” resides here at MMA Mania all week long.

To check out the latest Bellator MMA-related news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive news archive right here.

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