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A.J. McKee on Bellator’s uncertain future: ‘To see it go away, it’s sad’

The former Bellator featherweight champion discussed the rumored sale of the promotion, and what his plans were following another lightweight win at Bellator 301.

Bellator 263 Open Workouts Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

On Friday night, A.J. McKee out-worked Sidney Outlaw across three rounds to earn a unanimous decision at Bellator 301. The event may mark the end of Bellator MMA as we know it ... reports suggest a sale to the P.F.L. worth $200 - $500 million is imminent, and no one seems to know what exactly will happen when that goes through.

That uncertainty affects everyone on the Bellator roster, but McKee presented a zen vibe to reporters when asked about what’s next.

“Everything that I’ve built off of, everything I know has been through Bellator,” McKee said during the Bellator 301 post-fight news conference (via MMA Junkie). “This is my home. To see it go away, it’s sad. But at the same time, it’s just all business for me at this point.”

“Bellator is like a home to me. Everybody here, the whole organization, the staff is just very loving,” he continued. “Everybody caters to what needs to be done. They help out like a team. To see that whole family-oriented scenario go away, I’m a little bummed. Put one foot in front of the other and keep walking. This journey is not going to stop. It’s just going to continue to go and go and go.”

“Like I said, I wish everybody the best at Bellator. I hope everybody is taken care of and everybody is OK. It’s all with peace and love and blessings for me.”

If the P.F.L. does intend to keep running Bellator events as rumored, there’s a chance we could see the conclusion of the 2023 Lightweight Grand Prix. McKee was originally set to compete in that, but a nasty staph infection derailed those plans. Now he’s hoping his win against Outlaw lets him step into Usman Nurmagomedov’s spot in the finals against Alexandr Shabily. Nurmagomedov recently failed a drug test, so his semi-final win over Brent Primus is now a No Contest.

“That was my whole thing, go in there and prove I want to be in that tournament,” McKee said. “Prove that I’m the man to win that Grand Prix belt, finish ‘The Mercenary’s Hit List’ as I call it. It’s just not a regular world title. It’s got eight names on that belt, one of them including mine. I feel anybody that wants that belt, they have to walk through me.”

“So to be in that tournament, obviously Usman is out. But yeah, that Grand Prix belt is where it’s at for me.”

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