LOS ANGELES — And then there were two…
What began with 16 featherweight athletes vying for a one-million-dollar grand prize and the BELLATOR Featherweight World Championship has been narrowed to the greatest BELLATOR athlete in the history of the promotion Patricio Pitbull (32-4) and the company’s best-ever homegrown fighter in No. 1 ranked AJ McKee (17-0).
The culmination of the BELLATOR Featherweight World Grand Prix takes place Saturday, July 31 at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., and marks the company’s first domestic event hosted away from “The Fightsphere” since February 2020.
BELLATOR 263: Pitbull vs. McKee airs live on SHOWTIME at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT and tickets for the event go on sale this Friday, June 18 at BELLATOR.com and Ticketmaster.com with a pre-sale taking place on Thursday.
“This is without a doubt going to be the biggest BELLATOR fight of all time,” said BELLATOR President Scott Coker. “AJ McKee has been calling for a shot at Pitbull’s title since his very first professional victory inside our cage six years ago. Now he’s finally getting the opportunity to realize his dream of becoming a world champion against the winningest fighter in BELLATOR history. For Pitbull a win over McKee in this tournament final would be a statement piece to add to his long list of accolades and legacy as the best 145-pounder on the planet.”
One half of the vaunted Pitbull Brothers duo, Patricio has long been considered the crown jewel of BELLATOR MMA, where he sits atop the pound-for-pound rankings. Holding a remarkable record of 32-4 with wins over elite competition including the likes of Pat Curran, Juan Archuleta, Daniel Weichel (x2) and most recently a second triumph over Emmanuel Sanchez, the 33-year-old stands alone as the featherweight king. Additionally, he was able to capture the Lightweight World Championship in a 2019 contest opposite Michael Chandler, becoming only the second BELLATOR athlete to hold two titles simultaneously. With 23 finishes in 36 professional fights, Pitbull has shown time and time again that he possesses the well-rounded skillset required to reign over multiple weight classes.
With a perfect record of 17-0, AJ McKee has exceeded the lofty expectations placed on him since his professional debut at the ripe age of 20-years-old. With an even six knockouts and six submissions, the now-26-year-old McKee has shown a knack for securing finishes—and fast—with nine coming in the first round. “Mercenary” has earned dominant victories over every man who has opposed him including former champions Pat Curran, Georgi Karakhanyan, and Darrion Caldwell, who McKee submitted most-recently with a rare, modified neck crank that was later dubbed the “McKee-otine.” Finally, the Long Beach native will face the man he has called for since signing with BELLATOR, as he takes on Patricio Pitbull in the much-anticipated Featherweight World Grand Prix Final.
The preliminary portion of the event streams live at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on the BELLATOR MMA YouTube channel, SHOWTIME Sports YouTube channel, as well as Pluto TV and features former featherweight title challenger and No. 2 ranked Emmanuel Sanchez (20-5) versus Denmark’s No. 8 ranked Mads Burnell (15-3), a bantamweight tilt between No. 3 ranked Magomed “Tiger” Magomedov (18-1) and No. 4 Raufeon “Supa” Stots (16-1) and a lightweight affair pitting undefeated Usman Nurmagomedov (12-0) against Manny Muro (12-6).
BELLATOR 263: Pitbull vs. McKee Main Card:
Saturday, July 31 – Live on SHOWTIME
10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT
Featherweight World Title Main Event: C-Patricio Pitbull (32-4) vs. #1-AJ McKee (17-0)
BELLATOR MMA YouTube Channel | SHOWTIME Sports YouTube Channel | Pluto TV
7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT
Featherweight Bout: #2-Emmanuel Sanchez (20-5) vs. #8-Mads Burnell (15-3)
Bantamweight Bout: #3-Magomed Magomedov (18-1) vs. #4-Raufeon Stots (16-1)
Lightweight Bout: Usman Nurmagomedov (12-0) vs. Manny Muro (12-6)