Rising star AK McKee uber confident about victory over Darrion Caldwell to progress to the finals of the Bellator featherweight grand prix
Rising star AJ McKee promised this week to ‘break’ Darrion Caldwell as he continues his quest to become the ‘Floyd Mayweather of MMA’.
Some boast, given that boxing’s richest fighter ended his 20-year professional career undefeated in 50 contests, having amassed close to one billion dollars from revenue in an extraordinary run of success.
The 23-year-old from Los Angeles is just one fight away from a place in the finals of Bellator’s featherweight grand prix and on the verge of slicing out a piece of MMA history.
With 16 victories already under his belt in Bellator, McKee can break UFC legend Anderson Silva’s record of longest winning streak in a single promotion with one more win.
McKee might think Caldwell is another ‘stepping stone’ to his ultimate goal of remaining undefeated for his entire career, but a victory against the former bantamweight champion and battle-hardened 32-year-old would be a massive scalp for the fighter from Team Body Shop, led by his father and head coach Antonio McKee.
“I’ve always said I’m going to do the Floyd Mayweather of MMA,’ McKee said ahead of his fight on Thursday at Bellator 253.
“I’ve fought 16 people in this division. I had to fight to get into this tournament. I feel I’ve made a pretty big stamp on this division all together.
“Patricio (Pitbull) has got that 145lbs and 155lbs title. I said I was going to be champ-champ, what, in 2015? I’m ready.
“I don’t see there’s any need for me to hang around. I’ve walked through the tournament, I’ll have walked through 18 individuals at the end.
“I don’t think there’s anything really left for me in this division.”
Caldwell’s wrestling could be a problem for McKee, whose 16 fights under Bellator’s banner have been as carefully managed as they have been exciting.
McKee was quizzed about his opponent’s abilities on the ground, but the rising American star dismissed the chances of Caldwell surprising him.
“I’m going to break him,” he said. “He breaks. I’m going to break him. It’s nothing personal, I like the guy. We can kick it and have a few drinks afterwards if you want.
“Once I step on that cage we are no longer friends. I’ve a family to feed and that’s a big part for me. My dad looks to me, he’s put everything into me.
“I’ve got a lot to fight for and there’s no friends when you step in the cage.”
The incumbent Bellator featherweight champion Patricio Pitbull will take on Emmanuel Sanchez in his semi-final after making short work of Pedro Carvalho last week.
In the other match-up at Bellator 252, a week ago, at Mohegan Sun Resort, Conn., Sanchez booked his sought-after rematch with the Brazilian with a dominant win over Daniel Weichel.
McKee revealed he had already had a dream in which he choked out Sanchez and the featherweight thinks his rival is capable of stripping Pitbull of his belt.
“I just randomly dreamed [about Sanchez]. I think it’s a gift from God. I just get glimpses of my life. I don’t know where or when it’s going to happen,” McKee explained.
“I think Sanchez might get the edge over [Pitbull] because of the output, but if Pitbull touches him on that chin, that’s going to be a problem.
“If he touches anybody on the chin, it’s a problem. I don’t know, I hope Sanchez wins. If he wins I can beat his ass and let him know he beat up the wrong tree calling me out. Patricio, you know I’m coming for 155lbs title. Either way, we’ll run it back to back.”
While McKee might be oozing with confidence, Caldwell is equally convinced the young contender has bitten off more than he can chew.
“He’s super confident because he’s undefeated but he hasn’t felt my pressure, the way I move, the way I put pieces together in a split second.
“It’s just not like anybody else,” Caldwell said.
“I like to be the guy who dampens peoples plans. I’m the guy that fights all the fights that nobody wants to fight.
“Not only fights, but comes out victorious.”
Bellator 253 is live on Sky Sports from midnight on Thursday night