Patricio ‘Pitbull’ Freire beats AJ McKee by winning Bellator featherweight title back

“Pitbull” is not yet ready to pass the torch.

Bellator franchise boxer Patricio Freire won a unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47) over previously undefeated prodigy AJ McKee to reclaim the featherweight belt in the event. Bellator 277 main event Friday night in San Jose, California. McKee beat “Pitbull” to take the title in just 1:57 of the first round last July.

Freire is currently a three-time Bellator featherweight champion.

“That day, I came in peace,” Freire said, referring to the loss to McKee last summer. “Today, I’m here to fight. And I’m taking the belt home.”

It was a tough, close-up battle between two of the best fighters in the world outside of the UFC. ESPN ranks McKee 3rd and “Pitbull” 5th in the world in featherweight.

There was a lot of talk leading up to this fight about McKee, a 27-year-old who many believe will be a future superstar, going up against UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski. But “Pitbull” silenced those discussions Friday night. He played really well in the first innings, matching McKee with kicks and punches. In the third round, he briefly knocked McKee down with a forehand and grabbed a guillotine.

McKee was able to break free of that submission and do some of his best work in the late rounds. McKee had solid combinations in the fourth round and some kills in the fifth round, almost getting Freire back. In the final minutes of the game, McKee did his most damage, combining a manual landing, a knockdown, and a hard elbow into the cage.

“He was a tough guy,” Freire said. “He’s a great opponent. It was a tough fight for me.”

Freire (33-5) has won eight of her past nine fights, including a 61-second knock-out against current UFC lightweight contender Michael Chandler at lightweight back in 2019. The tennis player The Brazilian-born held both featherweight and lightweight Bellator titles from 2019 to 2021. He lost his featherweight belt to McKee and gave up his lightweight gold medal last November to focus on featherweight. dance.

Freire, 34, has the most wins (21), the most featherweight wins (20) and the most belts (11) in Bellator history.

McKee (18-1) has a Bellator record of 18 consecutive wins broken with a loss. The California-born beat Freire last July to win the title and the Bellator Featherweight World Grand Prix, bringing him $1 million. McKee, whose father and coach, Antonio, is a longtime MMA fighter, has an uncertain future with Bellator. As the title holder, he was locked out of his contract due to the champion clause of the promotion. But now he no longer holds the belt.

The Bellator 277 co-main event ended in a no-frills contest. Corey Anderson had an accidental headbutt from the top of Vadim Nemkov, who was severely slashed from the illegal hit. Referee Frank Trigg stopped the game and ruled out play at 4:55 of the third round.

Nemkov still holds the Bellator light heavyweight belt. The two also competed in the final of the Bellator Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix, for $1 million. It looks like there will be a rematch to decide that prize. Anderson appeared to be on his way to victory when the clash struck. When Trigg informed him of his decision not to enter the competition, he threw a water bottle over the cage.

Trigg has ruled this a contest without controversy because of the unintentional nature of the foul. If the match goes to the fourth round, it will be moved to the scorecard for a technical decision. But since time stops for the first three innings, it must be a ban or disqualification contest according to the rules. Patricio ‘Pitbull’ Freire beats AJ McKee by winning Bellator featherweight title back

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