Bellator featherweight champion AJ McKee has lofty goals that need to be met. McKee cemented his place as Bellator’s biggest homegrown success story when he capped off an incredible run of 18-0 with a first-round stoppage victory over Patricio “Pitbull” Freire to claim the 145-pound title. That was in July and McKee has not fought since.
While the featherweight champion is hopeful to have a fight booked in the next few months, that is dependent on meaningful progress in conversations with Bellator.
“That’s one thing I learned after the fight and becoming the champ. There is a whole other world contractually that I had to figure out,” McKee told CBS Sports. “With my fight, it extended my contract three fights. It’s figuring out either we sit down and get some good numbers going or I fight out my contract, three fights, and I test free agency.”
Check out the full interview with AJ McKee below.
McKee clarified that he is getting paid more than his previous fights due to his contract’s built-in championship clause.
For McKee, a big component of re-signing with Bellator is his family. The undefeated featherweight champion is the son of MMA veteran Antonio McKee, and older brother to a potential heir.
“This is business. This is a lifeline of business not only for myself but for my father and for my 4-year-old little brother. We’re talking not second generation, but the third generation of fighters coming up,” McKee said. “Like I’ve said from Day 1: I’m the Floyd Mayweather of MMA. Take it or leave it. Be happy with it, argue about it. The proof is in the pudding. I had to go through and look at my record. 18 fights. I’ve fought 33 rounds and haven’t lost a round yet. I’m kind of excited about that. That’s kind of gangster to me. That’s some saucy stats.
“I’m excited to see what Bellator’s future holds. $100 million is my goal. I want to make that 100 [million]. This is a bigger, better and more evolved sport… by the time I’m 50-0, definitely will need 100 [million].”
McKee has two Pitbull’s in his line of sight: Patricio and his brother, current lightweight champion Patricky Freire.
“I’ve had 18 fights in this division so I kind of feel like I’ve ran through the division. ‘Pitbull’ wants his rematch, so maybe I’ll just whoop his ass one more time. He feels I owe it to him, so I guess I owe it to him,” McKee said. “I felt the only thing he deserved a rematch for was having the 155-pound title. Releasing the belt and giving it to his brother, it kind of frustrated me a little bit.
“But hey, it seems to me we need to make this a family affair ass whooping at this point. I’m looking forward to being a champ-champ… Hopefully, we get something popping off here in the next few months.”
McKee is dumbfounded by Patricio’s willingness to relinquish the Bellator lightweight title in order for his brother to contend for it.
“That makes absolutely no sense,” McKee said. “Why would you give up the one thing that I want, if you wanted the rematch? That makes no sense.”
McKee said he definitely expects a move up to lightweight this year; however, he acknowledged two potential challengers at featherweight outside of Patricio: Adam Borics and Jeremy Kennedy.
“People have talked about Borics. He lost to [Darrion] Caldwell. That’s his one loss,” McKee said. “I don’t know, it could possibly be him. The dude that just beat Emmanuel Sanchez is No. 3. Other than that, I don’t think there is anything left in the 145-pound division.
“I’ve pretty much cleaned it out. I’m looking forward to moving up. Getting faster, stronger, bigger. Adding a little more power behind these punches. I already got that knockout power, but I want that one-hitter quitter as my dad calls it.”