After A.J. McKee suffered the first loss of his mixed martial arts (MMA) career to Patricio Pitbull at Bellator 277, the now-former Featherweight champion stated that he would no longer cut to 145 pounds and would make the move up to Lightweight.
One month removed from the title fight, McKee has had a change of heart, saying he will remain at 145 pounds if he can get a trilogy fight against Pitbull to break the tie.
“I think in the heat of the moment, obviously being a little amped up, obviously not happy with the result – yeah, there was no interest for me at that moment,” McKee told MMA Junkie. “Even leading up after the first fight, there was no real interest. But obviously, him being a champ, give him the respect he deserves, and honor him with a rematch. Now it’s my turn. I was the champ. I feel I should be honored with my rematch, and that’s what I’m looking forward to.”
McKee initially defeated Pitbull at Bellator 264 via first round submission in July 2021 to win the title and lost it in the rematch nine months later via unanimous decision. For “The Mercenary,” the key in the possible third fight is to once again get business done as soon as possible to avoid the judges.
“It won’t go to the judges,” he said. “There was a lot to learn within that (second) fight.… We know I won the fight, but I lost in a different realm. For me, it’s making the correct adjustments to come back properly and fuel the beast. This just adds fuel to the fire. That’s the next step: Just get back in there, get a date locked in, and go retrieve my title.
“The next fight, I think is going to look a lot like the first one,” he added. “I’ve always felt you need to beat the champ. I don’t feel I was really beaten, but obviously, I took an ‘L.’ 145s, I can’t leave the division on a loss, that’s for sure. (We’re) 1-1, so let’s see. Let the best man win.”
Scott Coker is more than willing to book another title fight between the two stars, now it remains to be seen if Pitbull himself is willing to grant McKee the third fight or give Adam Borics — winner of four straight — a shot at the belt.
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