Northern Irish prospect Rhys McKee could be on the verge of fighting for the Cage Warriors lightweight title, but the Next Generation fighter is instead looking to a move to welterweight due to his ever-growing cuts to 155 pounds.
“Skeletor” took a third-round submission win over Perry Goodwin after an epic back and forth fight at Cage Warriors 102. Despite the success McKee has had at lightweight—he claimed the BAMMA divisional title in 2018 before clocking a 2-0 record since signing with Cage Warriors—he admits that the cut is becoming more rigorous as he continues to grow into his 6-foot-3 frame.
“To be honest, there’s no hiding away from it; it’s getting tougher,” McKee told Eurobash. “The way we record it, we write everything down, how long I’m in the bath and everything. The [time] it takes me to make 155 or 156 is nearly double what it was less than a year ago, so it’s very possible the next one is at 170.”
McKee revealed that he spent three-and-a-half hours in a bath to get down to the lightweight limit for his clash with Goodwin.
“In the final 24 hours, the cutting process took over seven [hours],” he said. “That was over three and half hours in the bath; that’s how long I was in the bath for—three and a half hours if you were to add it up, so welterweight is very much on the agenda. These cuts, once you get it over with, you’re kind of like, ‘It was fine’ and I could’ve done it again, but realistically I want to be a step ahead before it all goes wrong.”
He admitted that the chance to book a place against Jack Grant for the lightweight title makes the decision to move up a lot more difficult.
“[The looming title shot] does [make the decision harder to make], but I’m looking at the bigger picture. If I was to get that belt, defend it three times and then get signed to the UFC as a lightweight…that would be a nightmare. At the same time, if Cage Warriors approached me and asked me to fight for the [lightweight] belt, if I could see a way that I could make that work, I’ll do it. Any decision I make will be the right decision, if you get me. It’s not something I would rush,” he said.
“I know I don’t have four or five years at lightweight. Realistically, I’ve only got one or two. I’m investing in the future, I know I always say that, but I’m just trying to look into the future and do what’s best for me moving forward as an athlete.”
McKee expects that his signature stopping power will translate well to the heavier weight class.
“These last few times at lightweight, I’ve had to deplete myself three or four weeks out just to make weight. If you can imagine a Rhys McKee that’s going into fight week nice and full up and I’m able to pack a bit more muscle on, it’s going to be ridiculous to think about the amount of people I can put to sleep then. It’s exciting and I think it’s definitely the way to go. Once I do that I’ll never take a step back.”
He also underlined his belief that Cage Warriors must factor in his results as a lightweight when matching him at welterweight, which he thinks could leave him one win away from challenging for a title in the new bracket.
“I’m not going into this division and the expecting to have to have five fights before I get a title shot. I’m expecting to go into this division and get the title shot next or the one after that if you get what I mean. I’m not going to welterweight and acting like someone who is making their debut; I’m thinking about having one fight and then challenging for the belt. It shouldn’t be a step back by any means.”
Check out the latest episode of Eurobash. The Rhys McKee interview starts at 1:03:30