Bellator 205: “McKee vs. Macapa” takes place tomorrow night (Fri., Sept. 21, 2018) at CenturyLink Arena in Boise, Idaho. The super competitive Featherweight division gets put to the test one more time as an undefeated rising young star faces a fellow 145-pound prospect in a fun Paramount Network-televised main event.
Let’s break it down:
145 lbs.: John Teixeira (21-3-2) vs. A.J. McKee (11-0)
Life has been frustrating for “Macapa” John Teixeira of late. At one time he had six straight wins (including four in Bellator) and seemed to be on the cusp of a title shot. Unfortunately, Teixeira became the victim of a game he played so well when he faced Daniel Weichel, finally ending up on the wrong side of a split decision. After that he lost a second bout in a row to former two-time champion Pat Curran, who ironically enough Teixeira is replacing in tomorrow’s main event.
“Mercenary” A.J. McKee is an exciting finisher holding four knockouts and three submissions, accounting 64 percent of all his fights to date. Those who look to knock the Team Body Shop hustler point out that McKee hasn’t faced the best Featherweight competition available, but as his star has risen, the promotion has slowly doled out tougher opposition, culminating in Justin Lawrence his last time out. There can be no doubts with this match up that McKee is absolutely facing the best available opponent in a man holding nearly twice his experience.
Who will prevail amongst these two Featherweight contenders? It’s hard to tell based on their last three fights each. McKee went to decision in two of those three, while Teixeira as mentioned lost two of those three. In yet another irony of this fight, each man’s last win is over Lawrence. McKee has the benefit of youth (23 vs. 31) and a highlight-reel style that makes him a fan favorite. Of course, it’s easier to look flashy and not go to decision if you fight lesser competition. If McKee is itching to make a statement about a title shot he’d finish Teixeira, but nobody has knocked him out to date. McKee’s best chance is to use his youth and speed to take Teixeira to the ground and make quick transitions looking for an arm triangle, armbar or rear-naked choke.
Final prediction: A.J. McKee wins via second round submission
185 lbs.: Rafael Lovato Jr. (8-0) vs. John Salter (15-3)
Rafael Lovato Jr. saw this fight coming back in 2017. You can’t blame him since John Salter has the best record in the Middleweight division other than him. Lovato is undefeated (8-0), while Salter has seven straight wins, including a vicious submission of the former champ. In my eyes, this is a No. 1 contender match. Both men are Brazilian jiu-jitsu wizards on the ground and while in some cases that could result in a stalemate that makes for a stand-up war, I’m giving the slight edge to Lovato based on his monster size. At 6’3” with a 77.5” reach to Salter’s 6’1” and 74” reach, he’s not only the more formidable Middleweight but could easily fight at 205 were that his desire. In a jiu-jitsu contest where both men are skilled, the bigger man can prevail, and although I highly respect Salter’s ground game, he lacks the absolute ace international jiu-jitsu competition pedigree Lovato carries.
Final prediction: Rafael Lovato Jr. wins by arm triangle choke in round one
155 lbs.: Patricky Freire (19-8) vs. Roger Huerta (24-10-1, 1 NC)
If “Pitbull” Patricky Freire took down Roger Huerta and submitted him in this fight it would be the second most unlikely outcome possible. The even more rare scenario would be Huerta knocking out Freire in a stand-up war. You do not want to trade hands with Freire, who has used every bit of his 71-inch reach to put 12 men on the canvas. Since Huerta has finished 12 men by knockout as well, it might be tempting to fight fire with fire. No one in his camp would advise it but sometimes a fighter has to make their own choices. Regardless what I expect is that Huerta will try to play it smart and take Freire down, only for the currently streaking “Pitbull” to stuff the takedown and then light him up with heavy hands.
Final prediction: Patricky Freire scores a second round technical knockout
125 lbs.: Veta Arteaga (4-2) vs. Denise Kielholtz (2-1)
Veta Arteaga is scrappy, durable and ... inconsistent. She has traded wins and losses back-to-back in four straight fights, but excellent cardio and conditioning have led her to decision victories in 75 percent of her wins. Although she’s better known for her work on the kickboxing circuit, Denise Kielholtz has won 66 percent of her professional mixed martial arts (MMA) bouts and may have even surprised a few experts by getting her only finish via a scarf hold submission. In size and reach they are “virtually identical” as Mike Goldberg likes to say, so for this one I expect the natural striking advantage Kielholtz holds as the Bellator Kickboxing Flyweight champion to come into play here — and if she uses it the fight won’t last very long.
Final prediction: Denise Kielholtz via first round knockout
That’s a wrap!
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