A.J. McKee crosses fingers for trilogy bout vs. ‘Pocket Pit’ Patricio Freire: ‘We can’t end the game 1-and-1’

LONG BEACH, Calif. – A.J. McKee passed the test that was his lightweight debut, but perhaps is reversing course once again.

At Bellator 286, McKee (19-1 MMA, 19-1 BMMA) defeated Spike Carlyle (14-4 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) in a frantic brawl-turned-grappling-match, which he won by unanimous decision (29-26, 30-26, 30-27).

“It was a fun fight. I enjoyed it,” McKee told MMA Junkie and other reporters. “He was a bit bigger, a bit stronger. I tried to get a little (suplex) in there and I couldn’t get his feet off the ground. I was like, ‘Oh, this is a big boy.’ It’s just little things like that. I think in due time (I’ll be better at 155) – letting my body get acclimated, walking around 170-175.”

McKee’s move to lightweight came after his first professional loss, a unanimous decision defeat to featherweight champion Patricio Freire in April. The bout was a rematch of their July 2021 bout, which McKee won by submission in Round 1.

With the series at one win apiece, the indication from the promotion was a trilogy was imminent. McKee ultimately decided to move to lightweight, but now appears to be angling for the matchup once again.

“I need need to know if this ‘pocket pit’ wants to fight for his legacy or not,” McKee said. “Like I’ve always said, I’m willing to. I’m willing to. I think it’s good for my legacy, for his legacy. We can’t end the game 1-and-1. We need to find out.”


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Freire headlined Bellator 286 and defeated Adam Borics by unanimous decision. Despite a largely one-sided showing, McKee said he wasn’t really impressed with Freire.

“Not really, man,” McKee said. “Not really. No. Great fight. Cool. Borics, I was more impressed with Borics, I would say. … It was his first five five-(minute rounds). Anybody that goes through their first five fives, you learn a lot about somebody, especially yourself. It’s different to fight five fives. That’s why I enjoyed fighting five fives with Patricio. If we fight again, it won’t be five fives.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for Bellator 286.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie