Just In A.J. McKee goes after ‘weenie’ Patricio Freire, heat ensues on Bellator 221 conference call MMA Life

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Considering the lineup for Tuesday’s Bellator 221 conference call, the fact that things got heated wasn’t all surprising. The main source of it, though, probably wasn’t what most people expected.

Bellator champions Patricio Freire and Michael Chandler were both on the line to discuss their long-awaited headliner, in which Chandler’s lightweight title will be up for grabs. Considering the two share quite a bit of history and have made no secret of their not-so-warm feelings toward each other, tension seemed inevitable.

There was a bit of it, thanks mostly to Freire’s intensity. But with Chandler seemingly uninterested to engage, another player was more than willing to fill in: unbeaten featherweight contender A.J. McKee.

McKee’s first stab toward Freire (28-4 MMA, 16-4 BMMA) came in the very first answer. McKee (13-0 MMA, 13-0 BMMA), who’s set to meet former champion Pat Curran a couple of fights before the Freire vs. Chandler showdown, said he believed Curran was the “true champ” for taking the fight, while the official titleholder – Freire – was set to fight somewhere else.

“I’ve been calling out that belt since Day 1,” McKee said. “I don’t know why Patricio is fighting Chandler. That don’t really make sense.”

It took a while for things to heat up after that, but they sure did.

If he is successful against Chandler on May 11 at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill., Freire will become the second fighter in Bellator history to hold titles in two divisions simultaneously. However, as the call progressed, he made sure to repeat what he’s been saying all along: This one isn’t about the belt, as much as it is about Chandler’s head.

McKee, in turn, has the biggest challenge of his MMA career ahead of him. Unbeaten in 13 pro bouts, all of them for Bellator, he gets to face an ex-champ who’s 30 fights and more than 10 years into his career. Curran hasn’t fought since Oct. 2017 but brings a three-fight winning streak into the cage next month.

Getting past Curran would be a strong answer to those who question whether McKee’s invincibility holds up against the upper echelon of the division. But McKee has been clear in his belief that he’s not only ready, but a bad matchup for the champion.

Later in the call, McKee made sure to stress his position, taking another shot at Freire’s decision to fight Chandler.

“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…” McKee said before “Pitbull” jumped in.

Freire had been using an interpreter for most of the call, but he answered McKee in English.

“Hey, hey, you’re not ready for me, A.J.,” Freire said. “You’re not ready for me, and you know that.”

The two started talking over each other at that point.

“Hey, shut up,” McKee said, immediately raising his voice. “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.”

“You speak a lot of (expletive),” Freire could be heard saying, before McKee interrupted him with a bark – as in, a literal bark.

“You’re all bark, no bite, homie,” McKee said. “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. He’s going to destroy you,” Freire replied. “Mark my words.”

“Just like you did, right?” McKee answered, as Freire spoke in the background. “I’m going to knock him out. Same way I’m going to knock your ass out. I’m going to knock your ass, 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 – y’all don’t want to see me.”

Freire seemed to then encourage Curran to “kill this mother(expletive),” and the two traded a few more barbs before the call host cut to the next question. Later, though, the two gave more elaborate thoughts on each other’s fights. Spoiler: Both predictions were similarly grim.

“I think ‘Pitbull’ is going to get his ass whooped and then he’s going to say he can’t fight me,” McKee said of Freire’s meeting with Chandler. “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.

“… I’m done waiting for (the 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 (expletive) 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.”

Freire later gave his own breakdown of McKee’s fight with Curran, this time in his native Portuguese. And while Freire didn’t believe the prospect would be able to beat the ex-champ, he did say McKee will have earned his title shot if he’s proven wrong.

“I think this challenge against Pat Currant will be the toughest fight of his career,” Freire said. “He’s talking a lot of (expletive), 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 beats past this guy, he deserves to fight for the belt. But I don’t believe he will. I’m betting on Curran.”

McKee, of course, didn’t take it quietly.

“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.”

Freire added in Portuguese that McKee has “only fought weak guys” and advised him in English to “be careful, mother(expletive).” McKee said he was going to fight Freire next and “put (his) ass to sleep.”

Bellator took the cue when McKee told “Pitbull” to stop talking and ended the official part of the call. But noticing that Freire was still on the line, McKee tried to continue the exchange.

“Hey, Princess, you still there?” McKee asked. “Oh, you are still there. I’ll see you on May 11.”

“(Expletive) you, man,” Freire could be heard saying.

“See you May 11,” McKee said, adding dog sounds and a laugh.

For more on Bellator 221, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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