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P4P Cast – AJ Mckee: Age Is Just A Number

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The youngest visitor to the MMA Latest News Pound-4-Pound Podcast (P4P Podcast), episode 76 (link here), AJ “Mercenary” Mckee Jr. (3-0), interestingly enough, owns more experience than his wrinkle-free, unscarred face may show. At twenty years of age, Mckee splashed into the mixed martial arts scene at Bellator 136, and he discussed with the P4P Podcast exactly how he intends to build a legacy on paper that has already been faxed into his veins.

Scheduled to face Danilo Belluardo (5-3) on Bellator’s international card, Bellator 152, Mckee will break a seal surrounding his blossoming career when he ventures outside of the United States for his first time to compete in Pala Alpitour, Torino, Italy. On foreign land against the hometown favorite, he voiced his expectation when traveling overseas: add to his global fanbase as well as an appreciation for other cultures,

“It’ll be my first time out of the country, and I’m really excited to go over there and put on a show. I just want to travel the world. I’ve been talking to my Dad about Dubai, Jamaica, Africa. Honestly, I’m up to go everywhere and anywhere, just to get out of the country and see someone else’s lifestyle.”

Listeners may hear Mckee reference his Dad and, without any research, assume immaturity; in fact, the truth couldn’t be farther from such falsity. A quick Google search leads curiosity to a successful and respected journeyman in MMA with an established record of 29-6, Antonio Mckee Sr. With Mckee Sr. at the helm and other supportive training partners on deck at BodyShop Fitness, the compass guiding Mckee points to him as the brightest star. Drawing the audience back to his youthful glow, Mckee reminisced on what it’s like for him to step on the canvas, hear the steel trap lock, and charge at the sound of the bell,

“When I’m in that cage, I call it my playpen; it’s my little playpen. I trust in everything I’ve done in my camps and my teammates have put me through, and when I’m there, I’m just doing what I want, playing around and having fun.”

Projecting wisdom unmatched by the mirror in his hand, Mckee jumped at the chance to weigh in on the UFC’s cash cow, Conor McGregor, and his appearance as the main event on the most anticipated card in recent history, UFC 200. Mckee’s cognizance to snatch up the microphone and announce where he fits in amongst the best featherweights in the world streamed an innate skillset that many seasoned veterans can’t plug into. He cranked up the volume, and heat, when he said:

“He’s got a bunch of 45ers that’ll take his head off. He needs to work on his wrestling. I’d love to fight that dude. Mckees are known for their wrestling, right? I won’t even use my wrestling. I’ll go out there and strike that dude, anytime! Everyone wants to talk like he’s the great; he’s the notorious.”

Some may hear lofty goals, but Mckee would suggest his ability to strive toward accomplishment has been hardened into his daily grind. During a conversation about making difficult decisions with the P4P Podcast’s panel, a mature Mckee mustered up advice on the topic,

“You’ve just got to follow what your heart wants. At the end of the day, I was in the same situation up at Notre Dame.” Mckee quickly realized wrestling and college life didn’t suit him, so he had to target an alternative track; he sated, “At the end of the day, I knew what I wanted, and I knew where I wanted to be. In that cage fighting is what I wanted, so I dropped out of college, put my all in the gym, and a year later, after about four or five amateur fights, I got signed to Bellator.”

Undefeated and yet to learn what the judges think of his performances, Mckee continues climbing the ladder toward MMA’s elite. In the special guest slot of the P4P Podcast, he rattled the airwaves when evidencing his drive to pursue greatness as a prizefighter, which, in turn, can apply to all avenues of life,

“It’s just all about what you want, and you’ve got to go after it and just make that decision and don’t look back because that’s all you’ve got to stick with.”

Don’t miss out on April 16, 2016, when Mckee marks another milestone at Bellator 152, and, before everyone’s eyes, this hungry cub will entertain for years to come and transform into the champion he envisions. Follow Mckee into Italy and beyond at:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AJMercenary

Twitter: @AJMcKeeJr

Instagram: @ajmckee101


For the latest MMA news, live event coverage, and more follow @mmalatestnws on Twitter.

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Bellator 194, Nelson vs. Mitrione Pre-Fight Notes

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Bellator takes over the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut later tonight. The promotion hosts, Bellator 194: Nelson vs. Mitrione from the venue, beginning at 6:30 pm (ET). Bellator 194 marks the 17th trip to the Mohegan Sun Casino. Their last trip, took place a little more than a few months ago in October of 2017, Bellator 185. The first trip to the Connecticut casino, occurred all the way back in April of 2009, and the second ever event held by the promotion, Bellator 2.

Twenty four fighters will make the walk later tonight, giving fans 12 bouts to watch from prelims to main event. Of the 24 athletes set to compete, five make their professional debuts. Peter Nascimento, Mike Kimbel, Pat Casey, Ross Richardson, and Ronnie Leon all fight for the first time, professionally. As amateurs, the group holds a combined record of 18-12. Only Ross Richardson maintained an undefeated amateur record (3-0).

In recent cards past, only some full broadcasts brought forward newly professional fighters. Events such as Bellator 191, 190, and 187, only broadcast short main card. While events like 193, 192, 189, 188, and 186 broadcast full fight cards. Since November of 2017, 15 fighters made their pro debuts with the Bellator promotion. Including Khonry Gracie in his unanimous decision loss to Devon Brock (Bellator 192), and Ty-wan Claxton, in his amazing KO finish of Johnny Bonilla-Bowman in the first round of Bellator 186. Claxton makes his second pro appearance tonight at Bellator 194 against Jose Antonio Perez, whom also fights for the second time professionally.

Upon completion of Bellator 194’s broadcast, 50% of the promotions first round matches in their Heavyweight Grand Prix will be decided. It is nearly impossible to choose, one match-up more interesting than the others. Yet, the Mitrione vs. Nelson match up is not only puzzling to fans and media alike. One half of the main event, at least, was once annoyed by the prospect of fighting his former TUF cast mate. Mitrione spoke to MMAJunkie about his reaction to the match-up, “Well, I asked them, how does that make sense? Roy is arguably the #2 guy in the division… Explain that to me, is there any seeding?…” He continued, “But the more I thought about, the less I really cared. Either I beat Roy when I have the strap, or I beat Roy to get the strap. What the hell difference does it make?”

In one bit of event news, fan favorite flyweight, Heather Hardy missed weight, in what turned out to be an odd set of circumstances. According to Hardy, she believed she made weight, without stripping down and using the towel. It was her understanding that the Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation gave her a weight allowance for the bikini top and bottom she wore while on the scale. Hardy weighed in at 126.25 lbs. with the aforementioned bikini top and bottom.

This understanding was not shared by president of Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation, Mike Mazzulli. The president made the decision to record Hardy’s weight without allowing her to disrobe, or take use the extra two hours allotted to make weight. It was his understanding upon examining and attempting to communicate with Hardy whilst she stood on the scale that brought him to the decision. After renegotiation of the bout agreement, Hardy was fined 20% of her purse which goes to her opponent Ana Julaton.

 

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Bellator 194 Weigh Ins Live Video

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Bellator 194 takes place Friday, February 16th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The stacked main card features the second bout in the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix matching Roy Nelson against Matt Mitrione. Both former members of the UFC roster, Mitrione and Nelson look to make a further impact in the Bellator Heavyweight division with a potential step towards the divisions championship crown. In the co-main event, MMA veteran Patricky Pitbull takes Derek Campos. The two will most likely battle for the next shot at the promotions Lightweight title, following the Brent Primus (c) vs. Michael Chandler rematch. Other notable bouts on the card include Liam McGeary vs. Vadim Nemkov, Heather Hardy vs. Ana Julaton, and Tywon Claxton against Jose Antonio Perez. Bellator 194 airs live on the Paramount network, main card beginning at 9 pm.

The official weigh-ins took place earlier today, the results are listed below.

Main Card (9 PM ET, Paramount Network)

Roy Nelson (23-14) vs. Matt Mitrione (12-5) Heavyweight bout.

RN: 265 lb.

MM: 255 lb.

Patricky Freire (18-8) vs. Derek Campos (19-6) Lightweight bout.

PF: 155 lb.

DC: 154 lb.

Heather Hardy (1-1) vs. Ana Julaton (2-3) Women’s Flyweight bout.

HH: 126.25 lb*

AJ: 125 lb.

Liam McGeary (12-2) vs. Vadim Nemkov (8-2) Light Heavyweight bout.

LM: 203.75 lb.

VN: 205 lb.

Tywan Claxton (1-0) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (0-1) Featherweight bout.

TW: 145 lb.

JS: 142.25 lb.

Preliminary Card (7 PM ET)

Ross Richardson (3-0, Amateur) vs. Ronie Arana Leon (2-5, Amateur) Lightweight bout.

RS: 155.5 lb.

RL: 156 lb.

Mike Kimbel (4-4, Amateur) vs. Geoffrey Then (0-1) Bantamweight bout. 

MK: 135.75 lb.

GT: 135 lb.

Regivaldo Carlvalho (4-2) vs. Thomas English (6-8) Featherweight bout.

RC: 145 lb.

TE: 146 lb.

Jarod Trice (2-0) vs. Walter Howard (3-4) Light Heavyweight bout.

JT: 205.5 lb.

WH: 203 lb.

Marcus Surin (4-1) vs. Dean Hancock (3-1) Lightweight bout.

MS: 156 lb.

DH: 155.25 lb.

Peter Nascimento (2-1, Amateur) vs. Kastriot Xhema (1-1) Catchweight (165 lb.) bout.

PN: 163.5 lb.

KX 164.5 lb.

Tyler Hamilton (1-0) vs. Pat Casey (7-2, Amateur) Lightweight bout.

TH: 154 lb.

PC: 155.5 lb.

*Heather Hardy missed weight by ¼ of a pound and subsequently fined 20% of her purse. The fine will go to her opponent Ana Julaton.

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Exclusive: Saad Awad looking for the quick knockout at Bellator 193

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Saad Awad makes his return to the Bellator cage Friday as he takes on JJ Ambrose.

The veteran Awad has been with Bellator since 2013, amassing a 9-5 record in the process, with five of those wins coming via knockout. Impressive wins against Will Brooks and Evangelista Santos feature on his 21-9 record.

The heavy-handed striker gets to fight in his backyard of California for the first time in over a year. A native of San Bernardino, Awad is fighting only forty-five minutes from his home, in the co-main event no less.

It’s great,” Awad told MMA Latest about co-main eventing in California. “I’m about forty-five minutes from my house, the arena sold out the week they released the tickets. So I know a lot of people are going to be here and the energy’s going to be really good, it’s going to be great, and it’s going to help me mentally.”

Meeting Awad in the co-main is a fellow California native himself, JJ Ambrose. Ambrose has been fighting since 2005 and has amassed 26 wins in his 13-year career.

He’s a veteran, he kind of flew under the radar,” Awad said. “He’s fought all over the place. I think he brings a lot of experience, a good solid stand-up, and ground game, and wrestling.”

Although Awad highlighted Ambrose’s quality, make no mistake, the “Assassin” believes he holds all the advantages.

I match-up with him great, to be honest, I think my striking is a little bit better, I think I hit a lot harder and my jiu-jitsu’s going to be a bit better, and I’m going to be able to outwrestle him,” Awad explained. “So I think stylistically it’s a bad matchup for him.”

Awad is coming off of a quick KO, one minute, seven seconds, over Zach Freeman. The quick win didn’t come as a surprise to Awad as he always expects to finish his opponents quickly.

I mean, not be cocky, but I expect to get a quick KO against everybody,” Awad said. “When I don’t get a quick KO then I’m like ‘okay something’s wrong’ so then I have to change my gameplan up. So nothing against Zach Freeman, I mean, every fight I go in there looking for the quick knockout.”

Currently, on a solid two-fight winning streak, Awad highlights what exactly the key’s been for him to get this far.

Honestly, I’ve just been training a lot,” Awad said. “I’ve just been training and focusing a lot on little details that I knew were my flaws, and every fight I’ll keep something new. If I see something go wrong in one of my fights, I’ll tweak that out and train it and get a little bit better and then just try and keep improving.”

With a win taking Awad to three victories in a row, it would make sense to offer the veteran a big fight. But Awad doesn’t have a name in mind next, although he doesn’t believe it would matter anyway.

Whoever they give me,” Awad said. “I can ask for fights but they won’t give them to me. “My only thing is trying to get a title fight, I’m not even going to ask for that anymore. I’m going to ask them to keep me busy. I just want to stay busy. I get paid the same no matter who I fight so as long as they keep me busy, that’s what I’m happy for.”

As for 2018, Awad’s goals remain simple.

Keep winning,” Awad said. “Stay busy and keep winning.”

If things go the way Awad expects, fans are in for a treat. As for Ambrose? Not so much.

I’m going to go in there and leave with a knockout, a violent knockout,” Awad said. “Get my hand raised, talk some shit, and leave.”

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