There is certainly no love lost between reigning Bellator featherweight champion Patricio ‘Pitbull’ Freire and surging prospect A.J. McKee. Too bad they’re not fighting.
Instead Freire (28-4) will look to become Bellator’s next double champ as he challenges lightweight champion Michael Chandler in the main event of Bellator 221, while McKee (13-0) squares off against former of former champion Pat Curran earlier in the night.
But for the man known as “Mercenary,” even though it was Curran who lost the featherweight title to Freire, he still represents the “true champ” since he’s the one actually willing to fight while his division’s champion jumps to another weight class.
“I’ve been calling out [Freire’s] belt since day one,” McKee said during the Bellator 221 media call last week. “I don’t know why Patricio is fighting Chandler. That don’t really make sense.”
Looking at the records of the 145-pound rivals, Freire and McKee represent two different generations of athletes. Freire, one of the longest tenured men on the roster, has cemented himself in the Bellator record book with most total wins (16) and finishes (10) in the promotion’s history. McKee, on the other hand, didn’t even make his professional debut until 11 years after Freire first stepped into the cage.
But now, with 13 wins to his name, all coming under Bellator banner, McKee believes he has already done enough to claim the number one contender spot for featherweight crown. With this in mind, McKee made it known he isn’t exactly thrilled at the Brazilian chasing after the 155-pound title.
“For him to just go into another weight class when he’s got somebody undefeated in your division is kind of like a slap in my face, but —”
Already hearing enough, Freire immediately cut McKee off, while ignoring the interpreter on hand.
“Hey, hey, you’re not ready for me, A.J.,” Freire said. “You’re not ready for me, and you know that.”
“Hey, shut up,” McKee snapped back. “Bring my belt to me. Quit trying to go up weight classes. You’re not as good as you think, bro. Chandler is going to whoop your ass and then I’m going to whoop your ass right after.”
From here McKee literally started barking into his phone, making Freire’s response inaudible.
“You’re all bark, no bite, homie,” McKee shouted. “I’ll take you to the pound. You’re a dog in a lion’s world. So, yeah, I thank Pat for taking the fight.”
“Be careful with Pat Curran,” Freire warned. “He’s going to destroy you. Mark my words.”
But again, McKee refused to back down as his voice became louder.
“Just like you did, right?” McKee yelled over Freire. “I’m going to knock him out the same way I’m going to knock your ass out. I’m going to knock your ass out and I’m going to knock him out. Your chin is weak. You’re all bite just like Chandler said. That’s why you’re running from me. Go to another division. You’re just like James Gallagher, you don’t want to see me.”
When pressed for more of a prediction for Friere’s future at featherweight, McKee continued his verbal assault, claiming he wasn’t even sure Freire would even continue fighting after his May 11 fight.
“I think ‘Pitbull’ is going to get his ass whooped and then he’s going to say he can’t fight me,” McKee said when asked for his prediction. “And then I don’t know what’s going to happen. Hopefully he releases the belt and gives the real champ, A.J. McKee, the belt.”
But if he manages to get past Curran in the violent manner he envisions, McKee already knows Freire’s championship belt awaits him.
“I’m done waiting,” McKee said when asked how long he was willing to wait for a title shot. “I’m done waiting. I’m 13-0, I’m breaking records continuously. There’s no reason for Patricio to be fighting Chandler, besides his ego. He’s like a little girl. He’s like a little girl. You pick at the little brother and then the little brother wants to jump big at the big brother. That’s so f**cking kid, that’s ego. Remove your ego and do what’s right. And what’s right is stepping in that cage and giving me my belt.”
As for how the champion sees his young rival will fair against the veteran in Curran, Freire isn’t giving McKee much of a chance.
“I think this challenge against Pat Curran will be the toughest fight of his career,” Freire said. “He’s talking a lot of sh*t, focusing on the champion, while he should be focused on the challenge at hand. Pat Curran is a very tough guy to fight. He has a very good chin. I gave him five knockdowns and he survived. Before that, we had a war. He’s very tough. If he gets past this guy, he deserves to fight for the belt. But I don’t believe he will. I’m betting on Curran.”
Right on cue, McKee jumped stuck with gambling theme as he lambasted Freire for his prediction.
“Lose your money, buddy,” McKee said. “Of course you’re going to bet on Curran. You don’t want to fight me, you weenie. Shut up.”
From here McKee would once again resort to more barking as Bellator officials signaled an end to the call. Too bad, McKee couldn’t pass up the opportunity for one final dig at Freire.
“Hey, Princess, you still there?” McKee asked. “Oh, you are still there. I’ll see you on May 11.”