Former Bellator featherweight champion A.J. McKee was supposed to headline this weekend’s Bellator X RIZIN 2 event in a lightweight tournament bout against Patricky Pitbull. Unfortunately that fight had to be scrapped, and now we know why: McKee caught a nasty case of staph, and it’s not healed up enough for him to compete.
In a new video posted to his social media accounts, “Mercenary” explained the issue and showed off the infection that knocked him off the card. Be warned though: it’s pretty gnarly stuff so don’t be looking at this with a gooey breakfast sammy in hand.
“I’m sorry but I won’t be fighting this weekend in Japan,” McKee said. To all my Japanese fans, I’ll see you guys soon. And guess what: we will be back in Japan, I promise you that, so I’ll see you guys soon. I appreciate all the support.”
Just to clear the air The progression of this infection in 1 week smh.. A few more weeks of rest/healing and it’s back to the grind. pic.twitter.com/mYmznV1Puw— AJ “The Mercenary” McKee (@ajmckee101) July 27, 2023
“I ended up catching staph, guys. So ... you know staph, it’s a really bad infection, flesh eating, it literally puts you in the hospital. I had to go to the ER. I’ve been on antibiotics and it’s healing up well, but make sure you take a look and I’ll show you guys the process and what I’ve been dealing with.”
McKee then took a bandage off his right knee to show two circular holes in his skin.
“A couple little holes in my knee,” he said. “But we’re gonna come back better, stronger than ever, and y’all already know what it is. Champ s— only!”
Staph or Staphylococcal infections can be minor annoyances or life-threatening ordeals. We’ve seen MMA fighters with golf ball-sized holes in their bodies due to staph. Dustin Poirier spent over a week in the hospital at the end of 2022 battling staph. If the infection hadn’t finally responded to the antibiotics, he could have lost his leg.
A.J. McKee’s staph is nowhere near that bad, but still bad enough to force him onto antibiotics, which whomp your system and sap your energy. Staph is also extremely contagious, so there’s no way any reputable commission or promotion would let him compete with wet, weeping sores like that.
Bellator X RIZIN 2 forges ahead on with Patricky Freire vs. RIZIN lightweight champion Roberto de Souza, a pretty slick last-minute replacement fight. Their bout will still be a quarter-final in the Bellator lightweight tournament. McKee will now be pushed into an alternate slot for the tournament in case there are further scratches down the line. Bellator X RIZIN 2 airs on Saturday July 29 at 11pm on Showtime.