Bellator 263: Pitbull vs McKee Preview and Pick
One of the most exciting and anticipated fights in Mixed Martial Arts history will occur this Saturday at The Forum in Los Angeles for Bellator 263. Bellator World Featherweight Champion Patricio Freire (32-4) will defend his belt against the undefeated AJ McKee (17-0). This fight will cap off the Bellator Featherweight World Grand Prix.
Patricio “Pitbull” Freire has 3 first-round knockouts in his last 4 fights, and one of them comes against the new UFC fighter Michael Chandler who has a very strong resume as an MMA fighter. Pitbull has serious power and looks to keep his bouts on the feet where he is an extremely dangerous striker.
AJ McKee is a more diverse fighter who can attack from just about anywhere. He has finished 12 of his 17 fights, 6 by knockout and 6 by submission. McKee is coming off of a main event victory over a solid fighter in Darrion Caldwell.
AJ is 8 years younger than Pitbull and also has a 4-inch height advantage. Another important note is McKee’s enormous 8-inch reach advantage over Pitbull, which many people think will play a role in this fight.
Pitbull does have 5 round experience, with 6 of his bouts going a full five rounds. AJ has never had a fight go past 3 rounds. If this fight gets past the 3 round mark and moves into the championship rounds, it is going to be interesting to see if McKee has the cardio to keep up with Pitbull, who has proven he can fight late into the final rounds.
The line on this fight is extremely interesting. Pitbull is a -125 favorite despite the undefeated record and height and reach advantage AJ has over him. Patricio is the more established fighter, and he is defending his title for the 7th time. McKee has a lot to prove, and I am sure he will have some nerves coming into this fight.
Pitbull is not the best wrestler in the world, but he does carry skills and a solid takedown defense. I believe this fight is going to play out on the feet, with both men having great striking skills.
Pitbull has not fought many fighters as long as McKee, so it is going to be interesting to see how he closes the distance in the striking battle. If McKee can play his reach to his advantage, it is going to be a tough night for Pitbull. However, we have seen lots of smaller guys able to get inside the long reach of fighters who may be a bit slower on their feet.
Patricio is one of those guys who, in my opinion, can work his way inside the reach of a longer guy, but I do not want to underestimate the sharpness of McKee. He is a world-class striker and will be at an advantage with his reach.
With all of that being said, I think this is going to be a fight that Patricio wins because of his experience. He has been through countless battles and has seen just about every situation he possibly could experience. I do not think anything besides maybe the length of McKee will surprise Pitbull, but I am sure he has been sparring taller guys throughout camp.
Look for Patricio to get inside on AJ and land a few power shots. I like Pitbull to win this fight by knockout.
My Pick: Patricio Freire (-125)