by Dane McGuire


July 31 saw A.J. “The Mercenary” McKee reached the top of the featherweight divisional mountain, winning the promotion’s grand prix tournament and the championship, putting away long-time Patricio “Pitbull” Freire in shocking fashion last night.


McKee picked up the win with a head kick striking combo followed by an early celebration as Pitbull looked out of it but then continued to move. McKee sealed the deal with a guillotine choke at just 1:57 of Round 1.


“I watched the fight. I knew I wasn’t asleep, but I saw my hands [start to drop],” Freire said. “I was standing, but that’s it. A fighter wants to fight until the end. That’s my mind.”


Pitbull has already asked McKee for a rematch in Brazil. MMAFighting notes Pitbull holds records for the most wins (20), fights (24), title bouts (12), title wins (10), and finishes in Bellator history (13).


“On this night, he was great,” Freire said  during the post-fight press conference. “He kicked my head and he almost knocked me out and he almost finished me on the same night, so he was good. Congratulations. Now he’s the champion.”


As the fight just occurred, there is no word yet regarding the status of a rematch at 145 pounds. However, ESPN reported McKee said he wants to fight “Pitbull” again immediately for Freire’s lightweight title.


Going into the title fight, McKee was a flawless 17-0, now 18-0. Along with the divisional and tournament championship belt, McKee took home a $1 million grand prize.


“It’s spectacular,” Bellator president Scott Coker said. “The kid is dynamite. … It was probably one of the greatest finishes in the history of this company.”


“I would love to see him fight against other people [outside Bellator], as well,” Coker continued. “As you guys would also. It’s not going to happen because it’s not the UFC’s business model. You’re telling me this kid couldn’t go in there and fight anybody right now? We all know he could do it.”


CageNation will have more information about the pending second bout as it becomes available.