Any conversation about the top rising stars in today’s MMA landscape must include Bellator featherweight A.J. McKee. In fact, it probably has to start with him.
Just consider the first three years of McKee’s professional career: At 23, he already owns the Bellator record for most consecutive wins at 11. He’s a perfect 11-0 to kick off his career. His 11 victories are second most behind ex-champion Patricio Freire’s 14 in the history of Bellator’s 145-pound division. Seven of McKee’s wins have come by way of stoppage.
McKee has said before that he aspires to be the “Floyd Mayweather of MMA.” He’s certainly off to the right start, but can he keep it up?
Bellator President Scott Coker sounds ready to ramp things up to find out.
“I think he’s ready to take a pretty big step,” Coker told MMAjunkie at last weekend’s Bellator 199 in San Jose. “I think this kid is dynamite. We’ve got some killer featherweights in there for him to fight. I think we’ve kind of raised his expectations every time, and now in the next fight it’s going to get even higher.”
Last month at Bellator 197, McKee was tested by ex-UFC veteran Justin Lawrence but still earned 30-27 scores from all three judges for a clean-sweep unanimous decision.
Who McKee will fight next is up in the air, but a long-awaited showdown with fellow rising prospect James Gallagher seems inevitable – if not next. McKee and the unbeaten Irish star have traded shots on social media and in interviews for the past year.
Last November, McKee got promoted to headliner when Gallagher, 21, suffered an injury and was forced to withdraw from Bellator 187 in Dublin. McKee went on to beat Gallagher’s SBG Ireland teammate, Brian Moore, and resumed his verbal onslaught on Gallagher afterward.
That continued following his Bellator 197 win. McKee told MMAjunkie that he’d like Gallagher next, calling the fight “a must.” And while it’s a booking Coker would like to make, he’s unsure Gallagher would want McKee as his first fight off a serious knee injury and without competing in more than a year.
Even though it’s unlikely McKee will get the next matchup he desires, it seems a near-lock he’ll get a chance to make the history he wants very soon.
McKee’s father is Antonio McKee, a 20-year veteran of MMA who runs the Body Shop gym in Southern California. Antonio McKee, 48, has trained his son from the beginning of his career, as well as countless MMA prospects and veterans. He hasn’t fought professionally since 2014, but the younger McKee would like that to change so they can become the first father-son duo to appear on a major fight card.
Coker said he’s already told the elder McKee to get ready and envisions booking father and son on the same card in six to eight months, perhaps at an early 2019 event tentatively scheduled for Los Angeles.
“That’s something I will make happen,” Coker said. “It will happen at some point. I just think it’s a great story.”
For more on Bellator’s upcoming schedule, visit the MMA rumors section of the site.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Bellator President Scott Coker on A.J. McKee: 'I think this kid is dynamite'