Bellator 263 results, highlights: AJ McKee stuns Patricio Pitbull to claim featherweight title by submission – CBSSports.com
AJ McKee’s ascent to the top of the Bellator food chain was completed on Saturday night when the 26-year-old scored a submission victory over Patricio Pitbull in the main event of Bellator 263 to win the featherweight championship. McKee not only claimed the featherweight title but also won the $1 million prize for winning the Bellator Featherweight World Grand Prix.
The fight opened slowly, with both fighters standing at range and throwing kicks. The distance favored the much longer reach of McKee, which proved to be key less than two minutes into the opening round.
McKee threw a head kick just as Pitbull ducked down, moving his head directly into the path of McKee’s leg. A few punches later, Pitbull was on the canvas and McKee began celebrating. The fight wasn’t over yet, however, and McKee rushed back in to lock up a guillotine choke to force the stoppage with the technical submission coming at the 1:57 mark of Round 1.
Pitbull and his corner seemed confused by the end of the fight. Pitbull had not tapped to the choke and it was McKee who told the referee the champion had gone out to the standing guillotine, which prompted the stoppage. The result held, however, and Pitbull shared a moment with McKee in the center of the cage with the men bowing to each other and exchanging some signs of respect.
McKee, who won the title in front of a hometown crowd at The Forum in Inglewood, California, was Bellator’s top prospect after debuting in 2015 and rattling off 17 straight wins coming into the Grand Prix finals.
After adjusting to the professional fight game against lower-tier opposition, McKee took a big step up when he entered the tournament but proved to be up to the task at every turn, scoring four stoppage victories in the Grand Prix to take home the $1 million and the first championship of his career.
“Man, all my dreams are coming true,” McKee said after the fight. “It’s amazing. We’re not done, we’re just beginning. It’s just getting started.”
Pitbull is arguably the greatest fighter in Bellator history, having held the featherweight title on two occasions. He still holds the championship at lightweight, leaving questions as to if he’ll seek a rematch with McKee in an attempt to regain the 145-pound belt or move to defending his title at 155 pounds.