A.J. McKee suffered the first loss of his professional mixed martial arts (MMA) career at Bellator 277 earlier this year, losing his Bellator MMA Featherweight title at the hands of Patricio Pitbull, the same man he took the belt from nine months prior via first round submission (see it here).
Logic says a trilogy fight is in order, but it seems as if everything is working against the two talented fighters running it back a third time. But, according to McKee, it’s all on Pitbull who, according to “The Mercenary,” is doing everything possible to avoid the fight.
“For my legacy’s sake, it’s something that has to be done,” McKee said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “When I put it in along those lines, it’s something that has to be done. The ball is in his court.
“He’s talking about going down to 135-pound division. He’s trying to do anything and everything besides fight me. For me, I’m just going to continue to focus on what lies ahead and take it one day at a time, one fight at a time,” he added before saying he will lose all respect for the Brazilian champion if he doesn’t sign on the dotted line.
“If we don’t get that trilogy, I lose a lot of respect for him and his career. I don’t give a s—t who he’s fought from [Michael] Chandler, all the great fights he’s had, all that s—t is irrelevant. You’re not a true warrior. You’re a coward at that point for me.”
Since their second fight, Pitbull has taken on (and defeated) Adam Borics to retain his strap, while McKee made the jump up to Lightweight to defeat Spike Carlyle. And while Pitbull has gone on record to say he would like to drop down to Bantamweight to win the title, he has yet to do so.
McKee, however, has moved divisions and that is the reason Pitbull says he’s in the right by putting the blame on the former champion for the trilogy bout not happening.
“Now he’s in the Lightweight division, I don’t know if he wants to go down and fight me at featherweight again,” Pitbull said in an interview with CBS Sports. “But, I was expecting he would come and fight me again. I would like to do that. Now we’re at a draw and we have to finish this.”
Furthermore, a third fight between them will be stalled for quite awhile because McKee plans on entering the Lightweight Grand Prix in 2023, which could tie him up for the entire year if he wins round after round.
For now, both men will take part in the historic RIZIN vs. Bellator MMA fight card this Saturday night (Dec. 31, 2022) in Saitama, Japan, with McKee facing Roberto de Souza at 155 pounds, while Pitbull battles Kleber Koike at 145 pounds.
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