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Bellator featherweight title rematch between A.J. McKee and Patricio Pitbull targeted for April

McKee’s first title defense will be against the man he took the belt from last summer.

A.J. McKee gets his hand raised at Bellator 263 following his win over Patricio Freire.
A.J. McKee gets his hand raised at Bellator 263 following his win over Patricio Freire.
Photo by Hans Gutknecht/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images

A rematch of last year’s Bellator featherweight tournament final is in the works for this spring.

Ariel Helwani reported on Tuesday that new Bellator 145 lbs king A.J. McKee and former champion Patricio ‘Pitbull’ Freire are lined up for another showdown in April.

McKee (18-0) is one of the rising stars in MMA, having spent his entire career under the Bellator banner. He tore through his competition in the featherweight grand prix, knocking out Georgi Karakhanyan just seconds into the opening tournament round, followed by consecutive submissions of Derek Campos and Darrion Caldwell to reach the final. Against Freire at Bellator 263 last July, the 26-year-old knocked his foe down and then scored a technical submission guillotine in under two minutes to win the $1 million tournament prize and the belt.

Freire (32-5) is considered to be the greatest Bellator fighter in the promotion’s history. He holds the record for most wins in Bellator (20) and has seven successful title defenses over his two stints as featherweight champion. Patricio also famously captured the lightweight crown with his knockout of Michael Chandler back in 2019. As part of Bellator’s 145 lbs tourney, Patricio defended his crown with wins over Juan Archuleta, Pedro Carvalho, and Emmanuel Sanchez. After the McKee loss, he vacated the lightweight title to concentrate on the rematch. His decision paved the way for his brother Patricky to win the belt with a TKO of Peter Queally last November.

While April is the month eyed for this fight, MMA Fighting later learned that it’s possible the two will do battle in May, but either way the rematch we expected is what we should see soon.