The main event of Bellator 263 was considered by many to be the biggest bout in the promotion’s history, and, with crowds back in the stands at The LA Forum in Inglewood, California, the stage was set for one of Bellator’s biggest stars to take their stock into the stratosphere.
The stakes couldn’t have been much higher. The bout between Patricio Pitbull and A.J. McKee wasn’t just a featherweight title fight, it was also the final of the $1 million featherweight Grand Prix.
And, after an ill-tempered build-up to the matchup, the anticipation was at fever pitch when the action got underway.
Both men kept their distance in the early exchanges, but when McKee decided to launch his attack, it was swift, decisive and spectacular as he handed Pitbull his first legitimate stoppage defeat (his only other being via injury TKO.
The finish itself was stunning. A huge head kick rocked the two-division champion backward, before McKee stepped into punching range and let fly with his fists. Multiple shots connected, with a big uppercut dropping the Brazilian hard to the canvas.
McKee prematurely celebrated a knockout win, but was forced to keep up the attack when Pitbull gamely clambered up from the canvas. But “The Mercenary” wouldn’t be denied, and he snatched the champion’s neck and locked up a tight guillotine choke that eventually saw Pitbull’s arms fall limp as referee Mike Beltran stepped in.
— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) August 1, 2021
It was a stunning victory that saw homegrown Bellator talent McKee, who has fought each and every one of his 18 career bouts inside the Bellator cage, reach the featherweight summit as he claimed the world title, the Grand Prix title and the $1 million prize.
Check out McKee’s stunning finish above, and recap the moment via 12 of the best shots taken by Bellator MMA’s official photographers below.