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Bellator 253 virtual media day Q&A, live streaming updates | ‘Caldwell vs McKee’

Fighters are scheduled to start chatting today at 1:30 p.m. ET from inside Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Caldwell vs. McKee media Q&A

Bellator 253: “Caldwell vs. McKee” takes place this week (Thurs., Nov. 19, 2020) at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. “The Mercenary” A.J. McKee (16-0) puts his perfect record on the line against former Bantamweight champion Darrion Caldwell (15-3).

The fighters are scheduled to participate in what the promotion is calling a “Virtual Media Day” this afternoon (Tues., Nov. 17, 2020), starting at 1:30 p.m. ET. Expected participants include:

Jaleel Willis (1:30 p.m.) - Bellator Welterweight
A.J. McKee (1:45 p.m.) - Bellator Featherweight
Jason Jackson (2:00 p.m.) - Bellator Welterweight
Keith Lee (2:15 p.m.) - Bellator Bantamweight
Bobby Lee (2:30 p.m.) - Bellator Welterweight
Jeremy Kennedy (2:45 p.m.) - Bellator Featherweight
Joey Davis (3:00 p.m.) - Bellator Welterweight
Raufeon Stots (3:15 p.m.) - Bellator Bantamweight
Darrion Caldwell (3:30 p.m.) - Bellator Featherweight
Benson Henderson (3:45 p.m.) - Bellator Lightweight/Welterweight


Selected news and memorable quotes from the participants will be available below.


Jaleel Willis: “I feel mentally prepared for the interviews and all the stuff I have to do, it just reminds me of how professional everything is around (Bellator). It’s just normal for me. I feel like it’s another wrestling tournament, another dual meet, you know?”

Willis: “It’s 100% his (Lemminger) will not to quit, to keep pushing and pushing and pushing. That’s what I’m trying to test my skill set against and see how I’m truly improving over the years. With Vinicius there were so many things I had to overcome over those five rounds.”

Willis: “I don’t see no difference. The competition level seems the same. Me, I’m happy to be fighting early. I can go in there, do my thing, not have to wait around. Right now I’m kind of being back to setting the tone of the show. I’m back to that younger stage going from the amateurs to the pros. I get to do that again. People are gonna have to come out and beat what I just did.”

Willis: “I feel comfortable at 170. I’m more successful at 170 than at lower weights and at catch weights. We let them know that I was open to fighting at 155 and I pretty much asked for it but it kind of backfired on me on that end.”

Willis: “Keep pushing. There’s a few things that the dude (Amosov) did well (to Lemminger), and I want to put my style on it to make sure I come out on top.”

A.J. McKee: “It’s been good you know. Coming off knee surgery in January, set to fight in June, and COVID breaking off in March. I was about 70-80% ready, I was going to fight regardless, but for me (now) I’m ready to go. Once I felt 100% we had finally locked in a fight date for November 19th.”

McKee: “It’s one fight at a time. I’ve known Darrion since I was a kid. He’s a great wrestler but I focus on what I’m capable of and at the end of the day this isn’t a wrestling match.”

McKee: “I wouldn’t say it’s nothing personal, I just told him what it is — I’m gonna break him. We can have a few drinks afterward but once we step in that cage we are no longer friends. I got a lot to fight for.”

McKee: “Pitbull did a smart move you know? He switched Caldwell to my side of the bracket and he’s got three wins over the people on his side, and he got the easiest fight. No disrespect to (Pedro) Carvalho but I think he came in real cocky. I think it’s going to be an interesting fight and for me it is who it is. For me it doesn’t matter who it is — I’m going to kick their ass.”

McKee: “I’ve had a dream that I choked out Emmanuel Sanchez. I think Sanchez might get the edge (over Pitbull) because of his output, but if he touches Sanchez on the chin, it’s a problem. If he touches anybody it’s a problem. If Sanchez wins I’ll let him know he barked up the wrong tree.”

McKee: “This is a while ago. This was before the Georgi (Karakhanyan) fight. This is before he pulled out. He isn’t ready. I call him the pillow puncher now.”

McKee: “Yeah he (my father) is right here. Keeping it gangster man. I don’t think I can fight without him. It was surreal. That was one of my favorite iconic moments in my career (sharing a card with my dad). I’ve always watched him and he’s always watched me. To be the first father son to go out there and win, he finished his guy and I finished my guy, nobody else has done that except Griffey and that’s baseball. For him to be 50 years old and still competing is phenomenal. I don’t think I’ll be competing at 50 — (the) checks would have to be stupid large.”

McKee: “No crowd is even better. I can hear what his corner is saying, he can hear what mine is saying, but if you get caught up listening to mine you might get your head knocked off your shoulders.”

McKee: “Who else is there really (to fight) at 145? I don’t think there’s anything really left for me in this division.”

McKee: “Some people get rushed but (Bellator) has literally built me. That’s why I’ve had time to grow. There’s a lot of preparation going into fights, so I’d say they’ve built me the right way, and now that I’m ready it’s time to full go. I’ve been calling out Patricio since day one. It’s nothing personal — you’ve got a couple of pieces of property that belong to me.”

McKee: “That’s my thing. I like to make history and keep win streaks going. 16 fights, 11 finishes, nine of them in the first round. I’m looking to kill the stats and set the standard high. I’ve got a three year old brother doing armbars already, so when he steps in he’ll be the first world champion at 18. I’ve got to see the bar high for him.”

McKee: “I wouldn’t say I’m a leader in the gym because I view us all as equals but that’s something I’m starting to pick up more. We all want to be the best and that’s what makes us all so great.”

McKee: “I’ve always said I’m going to be the Floyd Mayweather (Jr.) of MMA. I haven’t set any other goals besides that. Just see where the path takes me after that. I’d like to unify the belts and show the organization doesn’t make the fighter and I am the superior fighter in the world. I like being able to reach out and connect ties.”

Jason Jackson: “It’s no different (from Jordan Mein). He (Henderson) is just another name.”

Jackson: “I haven’t stopped training since the Jordan Mein fight. I stayed in the gym. I’m always doing something physical. Life is like I’m training daily.”

Jackson: “I’m use to (being overlooked) now. I use it to put more fuel into me. Oh I’m being overlooked? Wrong guy (to do that with). Watch.”

Jackson: “I take on big opponents and dethrone the odds and that’s something that I’m here for. Benson Henderson is not going to come in and do what he do. It’s the Jason show.”

Jackson: “Once I beat Ben Henderson if something come available I get in the gym and do it again until people say they’re tired of Jason Jackson.”

Jackson: “We have a lot of different looks in the gym. DeMarques Jackson, so many fighters coming up you have yet to see I’ve been working with, I did a lot of work. Henderson likes to throw a lot of lefts and shoot the singles so I want someone who can mimic that move.”

Jackson: “Finishing. I was the guy who was just fighting for my paycheck, so I wasn’t finishing the fights. Now I want to put it all together. I want to put everything together with the intention of finishing.”

Jackson: “You have Lorenz Larkin, so much other guys ahead, what you would call the division, jammed up locked up. It’s obviously gonna be way out on how I finish Ben Henderson. If Bellator want to present me with a title shot I would be grateful. If not I would still be grateful because I just beat him. It would show I belong in the top 10, top five, whatever. This is my yard.”

Keith Lee: “It’s hard to explain. it’s definitely changed the way I look at life in a general sense, to know I brought something into this world that contains my energy and my life, a and she’ll grow me and every day she’s a completely new person. It’s just crazy to see the evolutions and the steps. Just to watch a baby develop for the first time is insane to me.”

Lee: “We gon’ find out. I haven’t performed yet since I’ve been a dad so there’s only one way to find out. I don’t go in with any expectations other than performing so we’ll see if it’s different.”

Lee: “There is no sleep schedule. You get sleep whenever you possibly can. She’ll sleep from 2-5 in the afternoon and I just can’t do that with training. It’s very sporadic. I’m doing pretty well. Being away at the hotel helps a little bit. I’ve been sleeping here 8-9 hours. At home I sleep 2-3. Everything makes you mentally stronger if you let it.”

Lee: “In the beginning it was really tough just because I didn’t have that mentor (Kevin) in my corner, but everything happens naturally. He’s still here, he can’t move as much as he used to, but his knees are healing really good and he should be back in a couple months.”

Lee: “Bellator has one of the most stacked divisions. It would be great if we had rankings but I wouldn’t pay attention to it too much. They are flawed but they help in a general sense but I would be down for rankings for sure.”

Lee: “When I go in there it’s always me. It’s me against myself. I’m going out there and I’m fighting my own demons.”

Lee: “With Vinicius Zani and Shawn Bunch, nobody was able to say I was taking pillow fights. I’m making my path in this game.”

Lee: “I’ve been trying to get verified on Instagram for like three years now. If they’re listening hit me up. I feel like I have more of a reason than most people.”

Bobby Lee: “100%. I have more experience than (Davis), I’ve got five more wins than he has, but yeah he is the poster child. It’s not like they have zero faith in me. They’ve given me a four fight contract, and I’m going to let them know on fight one I’m the guy to build up.”

Lee: “There are no easy fights. Why not call out a big name? Why not call out MVP. If I beat Joey Davis in a featured fight, why not go overseas and fight MVP in a co-main event on his home base? One of the things I’ve always wanted to do is travel the world, have my fists take me all over the planet, so why not fight him in London?”

Lee: “I’ve never dealt with nerves poorly. I’ve never puked in the locker room before a fight. I’ve always expected to compete against good people. I’m just generally a centered person. Fighting has the highest highs and the lowest lows. Thai fights will have hundreds of fight in their career. They don’t win all the fights. Don’t get too high, don’t get too low, just stay centered and it will all work out.”

Lee: “Absolutely. I have faced adversity in the form of losses. I was told by my dad to quit fighting after my first loss, but he just wanted to protect me from getting hit. One thing about fighting is you know you’re going to get punched, so why not embrace it? CM Punk said I looked like a psycho but it’s just enthusiasm. Let’s bring it. I’m not gonna be too stoic (Thursday) night. I’m going to be smiling.”

Lee: “My first couple fights I was making gas money type of money. I’ve proven myself and now I get to go out there and fight as a prize fighter.”

Lee: “If you listen to someone like Dominick Cruz, he doesn’t believe in ring rust, it’s all about preparation in your mind. I would love to bring a team of guys out (like Joey Davis) and be in the mountains in seclusion, that’s some Rocky movie type of stuff, but it does feel great to have fought two months ago. I compete, I competed recently, and it’s going to feel at home inside of the cage.”

Jeremy Kennedy: “It’s something I wanted to add on the list. Australia, Brazil, Saudi, Morocco. It just helped prepare me for something like this. I’ve had bad weight cuts in the past, just knowing I’ve had to dial that in before I get on a plane, and when you land you don’t know what you’re going to expect. Taking all that stuff in and being prepared ahead of time has helped me. Bellator has this dialed in. Their procedures work, it’s not their first time either. To me especially with the long layoff, I think no crowd in the COVID times is almost going to play a benefit. It just relieves a little bit of stress. Big empty arena? I’m gonna go do my job, put this guy away and I’ll call it a day.”

Kennedy: “I’m actually lighter today than I have been before any fight. I could make weight right now. I wish the weigh ins were tonight. I flew out to Vegas and I wasn’t leaving until I got a fight so I was training like I’d get a fight on short notice any given weekend. I expect the best me to be out there Thursday and the weight cut is just part of it.”

Kennedy: “I’m in Bellator and I’m planning to stay there permanently, but I want that one back. That’s my only loss unavenged. He (Alexander Volkanovski) has been phenomenal since then. It’s not like I hold a grudge but we’re on different paths. I’d love to run that back but I don’t see that in the future or any time soon.”

Kennedy: “I’ve been a workhorse man this whole year. During quarantine when the gyms were closed I threw the gi back on which I hadn’t done a long time, I did gi two hours a day, I did sparring in the gym with my coach, and I think my whole game got better.”

Kennedy: “They don’t have a Wendy’s here but I’m sure they’ll have something for me (afterward) and it’ll be my first stop when the flight lands.”

Joey Davis: “I have other things on my mind right now but that’ll eventually be down the road. Right now I’m worrying about getting into my own house, getting some real estate, traveling, celebrating all the things I’ve accomplished. That’s my main focus.”

Davis: “It’s such a great thing (to have the team here). Me, Kimbo, AJ, we grind together we shine together. Team Body Shop for life.”

Davis: “Experiencing life. There’s more things that I want to do for my little sister, making sure she understands that you work for everything you get in life. In the meantime there’s war right now. I focus on the moment and that’s all I can handle, and that’s what I’m going to be ready for on Thursday, November 19th. I’ll be ready for war.”

Davis: “This is going to be my fourth, four and a half year in Bellator. (Bobby Lee) is just another stepping stone, another man in the way.”

Davis: “Bellator is going to be very shocked by what A.J. McKee does. I’m friends with both of them. I’ve been knowing Darrion since the wrestling world, like 10th grade, and that’s what it’s all about laying it all out there and I’m sure those two are going to do it.”

Davis: “Absolutely. I’m here to put on a spectacular performance, something Bellator hasn’t seen from me, really pushing my cardio and now it’s time to let that fly.”

Raufeon Stots: “I feel safe and I feel very prepared. I’m happy I got another fight before the end of the year.”

Stots: “Because of him (Keith Lee) and because of his brother, his name is a trophy in itself. After this I’ll have more of the same. The really experienced people know who I am, but outside of that they don’t know who I am, so I’ll be fighting a lot more guys that everybody knows about.”

Stots: “A ranking system would benefit so guys know where they’re at, but it can also hinder a lot of guys from fighting. If I didn’t have a number it would be even more reason for them to not fight me. I think it will be beneficial though.”

Stots: “There’s nobody I really dislike. Whatever fights are gonna get me toward the belt. I think James Gallagher is funny, the way he carries himself is hilarious to me. Patrick Mix, he said he’d only fight me if a title is involved, so I’d like to fight him.”

Stots: “To an extent I think he (Gallagher) is funny. He’s hilarious to me. I like that about him. If he didn’t carry himself like that I’d lose some joy in my life.”

Stots: “Keith Lee is a guy who is looking to make strides and make big opportunities in this game, so he jumped on a chance to fight me.”

Stots: “I think this fight will be a little bit of everything. Both of us are very well rounded. I plan on it going everywhere.”

Darrion Caldwell: “This is business you know? Any time someone’s in the way of business you’ve got to do something about it or make it non-existent. For me he (McKee) has been non-existent for the last eight months.”

Caldwell: “I’ve been saying this for years. I’m the Bantamweight king. When I get back down there it’s on, it’s on and popping. Juan is great, he’s a great fighter, he’s been a champion in every organization he’s in. When I was coming up in the rankings there wasn’t a lot to turn to. There wasn’t much to base me off you know? Archuleta, Pettis, guys like that in 135 makes it much more realistic when I talk about being best in the world.”

Caldwell: “I think adversity can make or break you. For me I’ve been through adversity throughout my whole life. The only place there should be black on black crime is in the cage. Settle it there.”

Caldwell: “He’s super confident because he hasn’t fought me, he hasn’t felt my pressure. Once he feels that he’s going to have a different thought.”

Caldwell: “We take this camp like any other camp. It’s no different from me fighting Adam (Borics), Henry Corrales, (Kyoji) Horiguchi. We’re really just focusing on myself and adding to my game.”

Caldwell: “I don’t think the rankings make any sense (in UFC). It’s all bullshit in terms of UFC guys getting the top spots. I know damn well I’d go in there and smash these guys just like I do in Bellator. For me it’s all about the money man. I’ve got a lot of people to feed and Bellator takes really good care of me. Like King Mo used to say I’m a moneyweight.”

Caldwell: “It started the night I beat up Leandro Higo, (Patricio) Pitbull had a bad taste in his mouth, now the older cousin wants to talk shit. You talk shit, we can fight. His older brothers wants to talk, he can get it too. I think I can beat Pitbull anywhere honestly. I’m too fast, too long for the Pitbull.”

Caldwell: “He’s a powerful guy. Pedro stands right in front of you, stands straight up, and it (his fight with Pitbull) went just like I thought it would.”

Caldwell: “I like to put a damper on people’s plans. I like to fight the fights that nobody else wants to fight and come out victorious.”

Caldwell: “It’s just like a normal day in practice. I think we’ll all be happy there’s no crowd.”

Benson Henderson: “I do know I want the belt at 155, I want to fight at 155, I want to face Patricio. But if they offer a fight at 170, I’ll toss it to my coaches, but Bellator knows I want that 155 belt around my waist. I need that, I will have that.”

Henderson: “Above my pay grade. Who knows (when Pitbull will defend it)? Last time we faced off I had my hand raised. I think he wants to face off too. He’s a champ-champ, he’s a good dude, he doesn’t talk smack unless you talk smack to him, he’s a good dude. You’re not a real champ until you defend it one time, so he needs to defend it once. I don’t know why he would not pick me but who knows?”

Henderson: “I gotta have it. I absolutely have to have it. It’s very important to me on more than just one level. I gotta have that belt. I’m gonna get that belt. I’m gonna have it strapped around my waist. I don’t know if I would say it completes my legacy but I do know it’s something I want that I’ve just gotta have, so I’m gonna go get it.”

Henderson: “For me what I know is I have Jason Jackson in front of me on Thursday, I’ve got to get past him and beat him up and then the rest will get sorted out.”

Henderson: “Any time you fight it’s a risk, so it’s as much a risk as any fight is, whether it’s 155 or 170. You win it’s good you lose it’s bad. Same thing man.”

Henderson: “I think he’s a good fighter, it’s a good fight, he’s a good match up for me. He’s trained with world champions so he has a lot of experience in that sense. A lot of people don’t realize, a lot of fans don’t realize he has years and years with some of the best guys in the world. He doesn’t have the biggest name but he’s trying to make a name and this is his chance. Here’s your shot.”

Henderson: “The behind the scenes stuff (from UFC to Bellator) is a lot different. As promoters they’re the same, but the small details, that is different. Even what day you fly out. All that can be a factor, it was a factor for me for sure, but (Michael) Chandler already went to UFC once as a backup so he went through the routine. Maybe when he (does) fight the first time (for them) he’ll be a little more used to it. It can be a trial, a test, but as a fighter that’s your job. You have to learn how to deal with it, take it and adjust, roll with it, go with it. I think Chandler will do just fine in UFC.”

Henderson: “Nah. I can’t do that man. That would be selling my soul. I’ll never sell my soul and not do something that’s genuine, that’s real to me. I’m not going to talk trash. I will refuse. I will never do that just for the sake of selling tickets or this or that. To me those guys are pretty low and I won’t do that.”

Henderson: “There are definitely certain ways to go about it, but I will not go about it in a way that’s contrary to who I am as a person. Will I maybe have to be a little more vocal, a little more articulate in the way I word it in the media? Maybe. Saying ‘I need to, I want to’ that’s my way of saying I want to fight for the belt. When I say ‘above my pay grade’ though it’s not my choice. That’s the call for Scott Coker, Mike Kogan, Rich Chou. There’s things I can control and things I can’t control. Why worry and stress about it? I can only win and win in impressive fashions. That’s it for me right there. Keep on winning and if it comes to a point where I need to say a little more I’ll do that, but I have to stay true to who I am.”


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