The culmination of the nearly two-year featherweight tournament featuring the greatest BELLATOR athlete and the top undefeated prospect in the history of the promotion is in the books and AJ McKee emerged victorious, notching an emphatic submission win in the opening round.
With the win, McKee extended his winning streak to 18 fights and took home not one, but two belts in front of a partisan crowd at the world-famous Forum in Los Angeles.
#1-AJ McKee (18-0) defeated C-Patricio Pitbull (32-5) via submission (guillotine) at 1:57 of round one
AJ McKee following his championship win:
“We are just getting started. This is only the beginning. When it first started and they were selecting the bracket, I wanted the third or fourth pick. But God told me that I am number one so when I picked that first draw, I knew that I was number one and now I am. The mentality is the key. You have to put the work in and my dad always says, hard work beats talent.”
Additionally, BELLATOR Heavyweight World Champion Ryan Bader joined the commentary team tonight. It was announced earlier this morning that his upcoming bout with Corey Anderson has been scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 16 at the Footprint Center, home of the Phoenix Suns, as part of the BELLATOR MMA Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix Semifinals. Three of the participants spoke tonight at BELLATOR 263.
This is my home now (BELLATOR) and I am going to make the most of it. Going against Nemkov, I see that it is going to be a big challenge. He doesn’t have any weaknesses. He’s a winner. I know he hits very hard. I have to be on my A-game. I can’t be lazy and play around. I am not saying I was lazy against Jose Augusto. But now I’ve got to go against the champ and I’ll be ready.
“It was super important for me to make a statement in the opening round and I did that. I came in and did what I said I was going to do. I worked my ground and pound and I showed my power to get the win. I was able to do it against a guy that everyone said is a Russian killer.
“Corey looked good in that fight but, really, who was that guy? You say he was a dark horse but he’s a dark horse because no one knows him. And your ground and pound didn’t show any power. It was volume, not power. Look, I am a gamer. I‘ve proven that again and again. I came here a two-division champion and I am still rolling.”
#8-Mads Burnell (15-3) defeated #2-Emmanuel Sanchez (20-5) via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Mads Burnell following his dominant win:
“About Emmanuel Sanchez, and this ain’t some post-fight bull where I talk up my opponent. He is one tough dude. This guy is straight-up gangster. I am tired of hearing that I am only a submission expert. I can box, too. The plan was with Sanchez to walk him down. To go to him and use my shoulder roll and when he changed his angle, take his butt down. He’s a dog. You think you have him and then he gets energy from someplace, I don’t know where.
Usman Nurmagomedov (13-0) defeated Manny Muro (12-7) via TKO (punches) at 3:30 of round one
Usman Nurmagomedov after remaining undefeated:
“I wanted to make a statement in this fight… I wanted to show that I could wrestle, and I could grapple. I can take the fight anywhere it goes. That I am not just striking. I showed that tonight.”
Islam Mamedov (20-1-1) defeated Brent Primus (10-2) via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Islam Mamedov after his close decision win:
“Honestly, I thought I won all three rounds without a doubt. I am not sure why any judge gave my opponent the fight. In my mind, I was thinking that if this fight goes to him, it would be crazy, and I wouldn’t understand why. Well, now he must be unhappy that he is not on my level. I heard him saying that and I feel like I proved I am better than him.”
“He was very negative about this fight, and I think he needs to do something to deserve this rematch. To me, he did not do a single thing in that fight that showed he won or deserved a rematch. Before this fight, I knew what he was able to do. He was trying to submit me, but he didn’t even come close. Even if he did, I have trained with so many good people for years and he would’ve had to rip my hand off to get this victory.”
#5-Goiti Yamauchi (26-5) defeated Chris Gonzalez (6-1) via TKO (punches) at 3:53 of round one
Goiti Yamauchi following his victory:
“Training camp was devoted to being ready for his wrestling background. But the more I train for grappling, the fights become more striking. That’s what happened tonight.”
#10-Vanessa Porto (23-9) defeated Ilara Joanne (9-6) via a split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Gadzhi Rabadanov (16-4-2) defeated Daniel Carey (7-5) via KO (punch) at 3:57 of round one
Khasan Magomedsharipov (6-0 defeated Jonathan Quiroz (4-4) 4:21 of round two TKO (strikes)
Joshua Jones (11-5) defeated Johnny Cisneros (13-8) via TKO (strikes) at 4:15 of round two
Georgi Karakhanyan (31-11-1) defeated Kiefer Crosbie (8-3) via submission (arm-triangle choke) at 4:25 of round one
Brian Moore (14-7) defeated Jordan Winski (11-3) via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26)