AJ McKee submitted Patricio Freire in the first round to win the Bellator’s featherweight championship on a historic night at Bellator 263. In what was one of the most highly anticipated Bellator bout of this year, AJ McKee and Patricio Pitbull had left no stone unturned to promote the fight. Needless to say, in what was a spectacle, McKee submitted Freire after hurting him real bad with a head-kick, followed by a barrage of punches.
“All my dreams coming true, it’s amazing. We are not done, we just getting started. I plan on holding this baby for the rest of my life, it ain’t going nowhere.” AJ McKee said after the fight.
However, it won’t be wrong to say that the fight ended rather quickly, and while AJ McKee did predict a first-round stoppage win, it certainly shocked many fight fans around the world. So what went wrong for pound-for-pound king Patricio Freire at Bellator 263 against AJ McKee?
Patricio Freire kept too much focus on the reach advantage of AJ McKee
AJ McKee had a significant eight-inch reach advantage going against a much shorter opponent in the form of defending champion, Patricio Freire. Standing at 5ft 10in against a 5ft 6in Pitbull, the height and reach advantage favored AJ McKee by quite a margin. Needless to say, that’s what proved to be the deciding factor in the fight as Patricio Pitbull kept a significant distance, leaving open the possibility of a kick from AJ McKee.
Here’s how he won it, was it an early stoppage? ???? pic.twitter.com/qGJ1tl5pRi
— CageChat MMA (@CageChatMMA) August 1, 2021
While it’s safe to say that Pitbull must have been trying to find his distance, and get comfortable with the height and reach advantage of AJ McKee, a beautifully executed kick from McKee hurt him badly, and a flurry of shots, including a vicious uppercut, left him severely compromised. While the fight was not called off at that point, Freire’s decision to stand-up, and once again put himself under a taller McKee provided just the kind of space and position where AJ McKee could easily execute to the guillotine choke to win the fight.
The loss marked the first submission loss of Patricio Freire’s MMA career and his second stoppage loss after the TKO loss against Benson Henderson which came back in August of 2016.