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A.J. McKee: Bellator vs. RIZIN experience ‘phenomenal,’ using soccer kicks and stomps ‘so fun’

A.J. McKee enjoyed being able to implement soccer kicks and stomps into his offensive repertoire, but he isn’t sure it’s something he’ll be able to do 100 percent of the time.

McKee defeated Roberto de Souza via unanimous decision in the main event of Saturday’s Bellator MMA vs. RIZIN event at Saitama Super Arena in Japan. With the card under RIZIN rules, “Mercenary” was able to use stomps and soccer kicks in the fight — which he took advantage of when he had the chance.

“Man, that was so fun,” McKee told reporters following the event. “I don’t know if it’s something I can do every fight, but it’s definitely something I enjoyed a lot. I look forward to doing it again. Hopefully RIZIN enjoyed the show, hope they bring me back, and we can do it again for a title.”

McKee, a former Bellator featherweight champion, is now 2-0 since making the move up to lightweight. In his prior outing, McKee earned a decision against Spike Carlyle in a wild fight at Bellator 286 in October.

Moving on from Carlyle to “Satoshi” was a clear change of styles, and de Souza certainly put his grappling and jiu-jitsu prowess on display — most notably in the third round when he had McKee in some dangerous positions.

In the end, McKee made it to the final bell and got his hand raised, and to do it on this card, in that arena — despite getting “two black eyes for the first time ever in a fight” — it meant the world to him.

“He’s a warrior. He’s one tough dude,” McKee said. “He kept on that triangle and it felt like he was trying to drag me into deep waters and drown me, but luckily I’m a good swimmer.

“This was one of the best arenas that I’ve fought in. The place is phenomenal, the fans were phenomenal, the culture is phenomenal. It was just an honor to be here, honestly. I’ve just heard so many stories and witnessed so many great fights here that to finally be here, be a part of it. ... I had to redeem the last name McKee. Last time we fought here, my father broke his orbital, so I wanted to make sure I put on a great show for you guys.”

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