The mouth-watering Bellator featherweight Grand Prix bout has been booked for July 30th. at a Bellator event — with defending two-weight champion, Patricio ‘Pitbull’ Freire squaring off with the undefeated number one ranked contender, A.J. McKee in a headlining tilt, with a location or venue for the event yet to be determined by the organization.
Attempting to go all the way throughout the promotion’s tournament, Freire most recently met with Emannuel Sanchez in a rematch of their November 2018 battle — scoring his seventh straight success via a first round guillotine win — progressing to the Grand Prix finale as the defending champion.
For the 17-0 McKee, he earned his spot in the Grand Prix finale via a masterful hybrid-neck crank submission win over former bantamweight best, Darrion Caldwell at Bellator 253 in November. which earned him plaudits community-wide, as well as the Submission of the Year accolade. News of the highly-anticipated featherweight battle, was first reported by MMA Fighting reporters, Guilherme Cruz and Damon Martin.
Sweeping his way through featherweight competition on route to the final, Freire, the promotion’s undisputed lightweight champion to boot, successfully defended his featherweight crown against former bantamweight titleholder, Juan Archuleta at Bellator 228 in September of 2019 in the Grand Prix’s opening round.
Meeting with Straight Blast Gym mainstay, Pedro Carvalho in the promotion’s Grand Prix quarter final last November, he stopped the Portuguese favourite via an impressive opening round knockout victory, before his second career success over Sanchez.
A Bellator feature since his professional bow 17 fights ago back in April of 2015, McKee, the son of veteran, Antonio McKee — has blitzed his way similarly through competition to eventually earn his first tilt at promotional gold.
With an undefeated 17-0 professional record, the Long Beach native has lodged an impressive six knockout wins to go with six other submission stoppages, and during the Grand Prix’s opening round, stopped Georgi Karakhanyan with a stunning eight second knockout in September 2019 on the same card as Freire’s win over Archuleta.
Before his mind-blowing submission over Caldwell last November, McKee had progressed to the semi final stage off the back of a third round armbar win over promotional mainstay, Derek Campos in Hawaii in December of 2019.