In a night of impressive finishes, A.J. McKee still found a way to steal the show.
On Friday night at the Centurylink Arena in Boise, Idaho, McKee was supposed to take on former featherweight champion Pat Curran in the main event. But when Curran was forced to withdraw from the bout in August, McKee accepted a fight with John Macapa instead.
That decision proved wise as McKee turned in a potential Knockout of the Year performance, decking Macapa with a vicious left hand that put the Brazilian fighter to sleep just 69 seconds into the first round. McKee even earned extra style points for not following up to land more shots on the unconscious fighter.
The win moved McKee to 12-0 in Bellator, extending his already record-breaking streak of victories inside the organization and puts him on the short list for a title fight. McKee himself called for a shot at the title afterwards, saying he needs a belt to go with the rest of his outfit.
The co-main event of the evening saw grappling standouts Rafael Lovato Jr. and John Salter face off in a bout with middleweight title implications. Lovato’s world class BJJ game proved too much for the former NAIA wrestling champion as Lovato submitted Salter with a rear-naked choke in the third round.
After a tepid first round that saw both men content to engage in a kickboxing bout, Salter began scoring some takedowns in the second, with Lovato fruitlessly attempting to secure a guillotine choke. Then in the third round, Lovato was able to convert a clinch position into top control and once on top, the BJJ world champion showed no mercy, pounding on Salter until he was able to secure the fight ending choke.
After the bout, Lovato called for a title shot and at 5-0 in Bellator, it’s hard to deny him one at this point.
Elsewhere on the card, Veta Arteaga took on Denise Kielholtz in a pivotal flyweight match-up, submitting Kielholtz with a second-round standing guillotine choke. Arteaga had success early in the bout, securing Kielholtz’s back, but once the Muay Thai fighter got back to her feet, she dominated the rest of the round with combination boxing.
The second round was more of the same until Kielholtz puzzlingly decided to shoot for her own takedown, allowing Arteaga to sneak an arm under and crank a guillotine until Kielholtz tapped.
Huerta has been on an up-and-down stretch recently but “El Matador” came into the evening fully prepared to scrap and the first round saw Pitbull and Huerta throw down with both men landing big shots. Freire got the better of the exchanges though and heading into the second round it looked like Huerta might be running on fumes. Early in the second round, “Pitbull” rocked Huerta and a brutal uppercut shortly thereafter ended Huerta’s night for good.
The win is Pitbull’s fourth in a row and afterwards he called out Bellator lightweight champion Brent Primus.