Bellator has secured the continued services of one of the biggest stars on their roster with the news that AJ McKee has signed a new contract with the promotion.

The news was confirmed Tuesday night, with McKee said to have signed an “exclusive multi-year, multi-fight contract.” It was also confirmed that McKee would be a part of the lineup for the upcoming Bellator lightweight world Grand Prix tournament.

A statement provided to Fighters Only from Bellator officials laid out the news, with Bellator president Scott Coker saying, “Our top priority has always been to cultivate talent from the ground up, and with AJ I can proudly say we have witnessed this young man blossom into a bonafide superstar in the Bellator cage.

“It’s also our priority to retain top talent, and with AJ entering the prime of his career, it was important to make sure he continued representing the Bellator brand, much like he did recently in Japan, for the foreseeable future.

“I am looking forward to AJ’s next challenge, an appearance in our 2023 Bellator lightweight world Grand Prix, which showcases the best 155-pounders in the world.”

McKee has literally grown up as a mixed martial artist inside the Bellator cage. Signed as an 0-0 prospect by the promotion, McKee reeled off 18 consecutive victories as he became one of the promotion’s biggest stars.

During that run, McKee won the featherweight grand prix tournament, defeating featherweight champion Patricio Pitbull in the final to capture the 145-pound title in the process. He would go on to lose the rematch to the Brazilian in his lone career defeat before moving up to 155 pounds for a new chapter as a lightweight.

Most recently, he traveled to Japan as part of Team Bellator for their promotion-versus-promotion clash with Rizin FF, and put the seal on a 5-0 clean sweep for Coker’s promotion with a hard-fought decision victory over the Rizin lightweight champion, Roberto Souza.

Now McKee’s fighting future in Bellator has been signed and sealed, “The Mercenary” will set his sights on the lightweight grand prix, and the 155-pound championship, in 2023.