– BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA)
August 1, 2021
On perhaps the biggest stage in Bellator MMA history, AJ McKee sent the man who is arguably the greatest fighter in the promotion in an incredibly fast fashion. McKee took home the featherweight crown – and the $ 1million check that came with the organization’s £ 145 grand prize win – with a first-round bid from Patricio Freire as headlining the Bellator 263 at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., on Saturday night . The 26-year-old Team Bodyshop star rendered Freire unconscious with a standing guillotine choke at 1:57 of the first round. The Brazilian sees a seven-game winning streak come to an end, but remains reigning lightweight champion Bellator. McKee, meanwhile, (18-0, 18-0 Bellator) defeated Georgi Karakhanyan, Derek Campos, Darrion Caldwell and finally Freire, to make his way into the featherweight category.
“Dude, all of my dreams are coming true. It’s amazing, ”McKee said. “We are not finished. This is just the beginning. I can’t wait to hold this baby for the rest of my life. It’s not going anywhere.
It was an electric atmosphere even before the fight began, as a boisterous crowd put their vocal power behind McKee, a California native. After a brief period of reflection, McKee closed the distance and knocked out Freire (32-5, 20-5 Bellator) with a head butt in the jaw. From there, McKee scolded with punches and dropped “Pitbull” near the fence, prompting a premature celebration from the man known as the “Mercenary.” It didn’t take long for McKee to return to the attack, as he locked the end-of-fight maneuver and squeezed until Freire’s arm went limp.
“I thought he was done and I looked at him and I was like, ‘Dude, well let’s get back to him,’” McKee said. “I felt him get a little soft. I knew he was already a little shaken up. I felt it warp a bit and I was like, ‘Alright, that’s it.’ “
In the main co-event, Mads Burnell relied on strikeouts and superior control to fend off two-time title challenger Emmanuel Sanchez in a fast-paced featherweight fight. All three judges submitted scorecards in favor of the former Cage Warriors title holder: 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27. Burnell (16-3, 3-0 Bellator) won seven fights in a row, while Sanchez (20-6, 13-5) lost consecutive fights for the first time in his professional tenure.
“This guy is the toughest son of a gun I’ve ever shared the cage with,” Burnell said.
Sanchez gave the feet a breakneck pace, landing combinations of multiple punches to the head while mixing nudges and punches to the body. While Burnell connected with a solid offense in the trade, he couldn’t match his opponent’s volume in this regard.
However, Sanchez gradually found it increasingly difficult to stay upright as the fight progressed, and Burnell was able to tip the scales in his favor by immobilizing his opponent every turn. The final frame was the Dane’s most emphatic, as he spent most of the period in first place. All in all, Burnell was credited with seven eliminations and over five minutes of control time in the fight.
Elsewhere, American Kickboxing Academy product Usman Nurmagomedov made short work of Luis Muro in a light track to keep his undefeated record intact. A knee to Nurmagomedov’s body sent Muro collapsing onto the canvas, and the 23-year-old prospect finished from there with a flurry of punches and hammers to the head at 3.30am of the first round.
Former UFC champion Khabib Nurmagomedov’s cousin was in control throughout, as he landed strikeouts, rose to dominant positions and threatened submissions. When Muro managed to get out of a naked rear choke attempt and take first place, Nurmagomedov (13-0, 2-0 Bellator) quickly stood up, turned his foe into a fence in melee and began to land periodically. knees before the decisive shot connected. Muro (12-7, 3-1 Bellator) sees Bellator’s three-game winning streak end in defeat.
Earlier, the cage judges favored Islam Mamedov’s leading position over the active guard job of Brent Primus, as the former Professional Fighters League talent made a controversial split decision in a lightweight clash. Featured. Bryan Miner and Marcel Varela submitted 29-28 for Mamedov (20-1-1, 1-0 Bellator), while Sal D’Amato saw him 29-28 for Bellator’s former 155-pound king.
Mamedov managed to secure strikeouts or a top spot in each frame, but the 31-year-old Dagestanian offered little significant offense once he got the action on the canvas. Instead, it was Primus who attempted a myriad of submissions from his back – including shoulder blades, kimura, and armbands – while limiting his opponent’s ability to create space. To his credit, Mamedov displayed a strong defense of submission throughout the bout, repeatedly extricating himself from precarious positions.
Mamedov did his best job in the third round, when he tripped Primus (10-2, 8-2 Bellator) on the canvas with a low kick at the start and spent more than four minutes working since the first position. As Mamedov landed on the ground and on the pound again, Primus’ submission attacks slowed down considerably in the last five minutes, likely sealing his fate.
In the evening’s main card opener, Bellator’s all-time submission leader Goiti Yamauchi presented a different side to his game, as he scored a technical knockout against the representative of The previously undefeated Alpha Male team, Christopher Gonzalez at lightweight. Yamauchi (26-5, 12-4 Bellator) closed the contest at 3:53 of the first round, earning his first KO / TKO triumph since stopping Saul Almeida with punches in his second Bellator appearance. in November 2013.
Gonzalez (6-1, 6-1 Bellator), a wrestling former National Junior College Athletic Association All-American, chose to stand and trade with Yamauchi for the duration of the fight and paid dearly for the decision. . The 28-year-old Japanese star gradually increased the intensity of his strikes as the fight progressed, body kicks, leading uppercuts and crisp straight right hands. It was a right hand from Yamauchi that knocked Gonzalez down near the fence, and he sealed his victory with around nine standing punches on his defenseless foe before referee Mike Beltran stepped in.
In preliminary action: former Invicta FC flyweight queen Vanessa Porto (23-9, 1-1 Bellator) edged Ilara Joanne (9-6, 1-2 Bellator) by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) at 125 pounds; Gadzhi Rabadanov (16-4-1, 1-0 Bellator) dropped Daniel Carey (7-5, 3-4 Bellator) with a left hook, then ended his victory with follow-up ground strikes. 3:57 in the first round of a 150-pound catch weight meet; Khasan Magomedsharipov, 20 (6-0, 1-0 Bellator), the younger brother of UFC competitor Zabit Magomedsharipov, beat Jonathan Quiroz (3-5, 0-2 Bellator) with back punches for a TKO victory at the 4:21 mark of Round 2 in a featherweight clash; Joshua Jones (11-5, 4-2) put Johnny Cisneros (13-8, 3-6 Bellator) away with a barrage of punches and hammers from the first position 4:15 in the second round of a 180 pound weight case; Former World Series of Fighting champion Georgi Karakhanan (31-11-1, 1 NC, 9-9 Bellator) used an arm triangle choke to subdue Kiefer Crosbie, from Dublin (8-3, 4-3 Bellator) at 4:25 of round 1 in the lightweight and export SBG Ireland Brian Moore (14-7, 6-3 Bellator) got a unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26) against Team Quest member Jordan Winski (11-3, 0-1 Bellator) at bantamweight.