Another fight, another win for Bellator MMA featherweight prospect AJ McKee.
The 24-year-old phenom improved to 14-0 with a shutout decision over former champion Pat Curran on the main card of Bellator 221 in Rosemont, Illinois. It was hardly a scintillating performance in terms of action, but it was a composed, complete showing from McKee as he landed the better strikes and did more damage on the ground. Curran was busted up from elbows from the bottom in round two, and just didn’t have answers for McKee’s control of range and ability to cover distance so quickly.
It was very much a feel-out process early in round one, but McKee was slightly more aggressive and was able to turn a Curran kick into a takedown. McKee landed a couple of strikes on the ground and then a knee as Curran returned to his feet. AJ was able to control distance and prevent Curran from really being effective offensively for much of the opening frame. McKee threw a flurry of shots after they both threw kicks but Curran fell down. Curran wasn’t terribly bothered but he definitely dropped the round.
McKee fired off a couple of leg kicks to begin round two. It was still a bit of a slow grind and the crowd let them both hear it. McKee was able to get the fans excited with a good combination against the fence, as Curran continued to struggle with McKee’s kicks and ability to cover distance. The former champion secured a takedown with under two minutes left in the round, and McKee turned that into offense with several elbows from his back. For the most part, Curran had position but not much actual offense. The strikes from the bottom actually cut Curran open.
Curran’s inactivity continued to be a problem in round three, as McKee was landing more and throwing more. A rare moment of success saw him stuff a McKee takedown and then slam home a knee up the middle. A longer shot from McKee was stuffed by Curran initially, but McKee chained his takedowns together and completed it in the final minute. Nothing else really happened of note from there, and McKee would soon have his hand raised again.
Official result: AJ McKee def. Pat Curran by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)