What was Bellator 286’s biggest moment? Jeff Wagenheim and Marc Raimondi offer what they’ve learned from the action-packed event in Long Beach.
AJ McKee Lightweight, fine, and has options
After suffering the first loss of his career and making his debut in a new division, AJ McKee did nothing Saturday night to make anyone worry about his future.In his hometown of Long Beach, California, Mackie beats Spike Carlyle By unanimous decision in a bloody war in which Mackie ruled for the most part. Carlisle came out roaring to start a fight, but McKee dropped him nonetheless. For the remainder of the fight, Carlisle was mostly on the defensive, with McKee injuring him in the leg and trying to pull off a highlight reel submission on the ground.His McKee, the former Bellator Featherweight Champion, was slammed at lightweight. They gave an impressive first performance.
The question for McKee now is what’s next and what makes the most sense. He has choices and they are mostly good ones. A trilogy fight with Patricio “Pitbull” Freire is arguably the biggest fight Bellator can do right now, with McKee saying he’s only returning to featherweight for the title, and he’s the right obtained. He made a head-to-head decision in April after finishing “Pitbull” in 2021.After Freire wiped his division, he was talking about being demoted to bantamweight, which was expected Aaron Pico It becomes a challenger in no time.Pico out due to injury Jeremy Kennedy At Bellator 286.
Other possibilities for Mackie? Take part in the Bellator Lightweight World Grand Prix starting in 2023. He has his second shot at his million and Bellator’s lightweight title contested in the tournament. By the way, Freire’s brother Patrick is currently his Bellator champion at 155 pounds. If I were Mackie, I would tell Bellator to give him one of the “pitbull” brothers. Either Patricio for the featherweight belt and his trilogy fight, or Patricio for that belt in the first round of the lightweight tournament. By the way, Freire’s brother Patrick is the current 155-pound Bellator champion and will defend his title against Usman Nurmagomedov in November. — Raimondi
Maybe it’s time for Pitbull to consider his options too?
Fans booed for most of the 25 minutes of the main event. Bellator 286 is located in Long Beach, Calif., and the fighter who was controlling every second of his match was Patricio “Pitbull” Freire, so that reaction was, in a way, predetermined. Just six months before him, the featherweight champion Long handed over his beach favorite son, AJ McKee, to the first and only defeat of his career.
But will Freire’s performance in this weekend’s unanimous decision win? Adam Bollix Have you ever delighted a crowd in any arena in any city in the world? Freire was not lacking. It’s just that he was efficient in a spectacularly rewarding sport.The victory was the 34th in the Brazilian’s career and his 11th by decision. He has 11 wins by knockout and 12 submissions. Balanced story. Talk about no calling card.
Freire is in his third reign as Bellator’s featherweight champion. He is also the lightweight champion. He has won 9 of his last 10 games, beating the best players to ever step into his cage in a round. Yet this all-time great somehow flies under the radar.
Other Bellator names come up more often than Freire when fans discuss which fighter outside the UFC can claim to be the best in the entire sport. Geghard Musasiwhen he was the middleweight champion. Corey Anderson, although he is not a champion, he has looked dominant since coming over from the UFC. “Pitbull” is equally valuable. He doesn’t get much attention.
That could change in his next fight, and he has options. I made it. Or Freire could drop to bantamweight in pursuit of an unprecedented achievement in MMA: winning a championship in the third weight class.
Both options have drawbacks. Freire will be depriving his brother, lightweight champion Patrick, of that spotlight bout by pursuing the McKee fight. would never agree to lose more weight.
But some, including Freire’s compatriots, have succeeded. Jose AldoAt 5-foot-6, Freire has a stocky build that pulls it off. — Wagenheim