A hearty hello, dear readers! The smaller of the two Kevin’s is back once again to give you the latest and greatest news stories from around the combat sports world. You have only so many moments in a day, so thanks for spending a few here at the Aces BJJ News Roundup!
We’ve got a great spread for you all to gasp over this week. Bellator shot across the bow with an incredible event with a star to rival their rivals at the UFC. The UFC responded with a fight night that ABSOLUTELY overperformed, wall-to-wall magic across the entire card for our bloodshot eyes to absorb. And we had some grappling magic in the form of BJJ Bet’s killer main event to leave us completely stuffed come Monday.
We’re all spiraling towards the eventual decay of our minds and bodies, with only the most base distractions keeping us from utter despair. Let’s read about violence!
Bellator Star AJ McKee Shines
In the war of MMA promotions, Bellator has long been the David to the UFC’s Goliath. With an arguable monopoly on talent and prestige, Dana White’s fun factory has been the place to be for the majority of MMA history. Barring One FC and the PFL, Bellator has been the perennial number two promotion with a fraction of the viewer base.
But the promotion’s time may be at hand, as new Bellator Champion AJ McKee quickly captured national attention with his impressive submission win over long-time reigning featherweight champ Patricio ‘Pitbull’ Freire at Bellator 263 this past Saturday. His home crowd lauded the California native after his technical showcase, and the conversation almost immediately jumped to some sort of cross-promotional fight with the UFC.
McKee gained center control to start the bout, keeping Freire in the perimeter with high kicks and feints. Freire launched a low kick, but that would be his only notable offense as a head kick from McKee sent him stumbling to the floor. McKee followed up with a few big shots on the falling champion, thinking the bout was over. Celebrating prematurely before referee Mike Beltran told him to continue the fight, McKee closed in on a slowly standing Freire and opted for a more merciful standing Guillotine choke. The challenger threaded his right leg between Freire’s and clamped down with all his might. Seconds late,r he informed Beltran that “He’s out,” before letting the dazed fighter free of the submission. The fight was called at 1:57, and McKeehas crownedd the new Bellator Champion.
With a top-shelf performance that wouldn’t look out of place in the top 10 of the UFC’s featherweight division, tons of folks expressed interest in seeing some cross-promotion magic. “I would love to see him fight against other people [outside Bellator], as well,” Bellator President Scott Coker said. “As you guys would also. It’s not going to happen because it’s not the UFC’s business model. You’re telling me this kid couldn’t go in there and fight anybody right now? We all know he could do it.”
McKee expressed some interest in the UFC, but more so in securing his financial security. “Six months, six years – it doesn’t matter (when I get to the UFC),” McKee said in an interview with MMAFighting. “At the end of the day, as long as I’m cashing in big checks, I’m OK. I’m happy. I’m satisfied.
Congrats to the new champ, and here’s to whatever big things happen at Bellator going forward!
Sean Strickland Defeats Uriah Hall
It’s a special feeling when a UFC card completely blows expectations out of the water, and UFC Fight Night Vegas 33 was one such example. With a stacked card of mind-blowing fights like the main event siege of Strickland and Hall to the shocking KO in the co-main, the cage was home to nothing but quality for the entire night.
Cheyenne Buys took on Gloria de Paula in a strawweight bout that went by like a bullet. Both women exchanged heavy shots in the opening seconds, but Buys took control with a trip takedown into closed guard. As De Paula opened her guard and began to stand, Buys landed the mother of all head kicks to nearly end the match there. Still semi-conscious, De Paula drove forward, looking for a takedown. Buys pushed her onto her back and unloaded with strikes from top mount until the ref called an end to the onslaught. At one minute exactly, Buys was declared the winner and the recipient of the much-needed 50K fight of the night bonus.
The main event, however, was a spectacle of a different kind. Sean Strickland unleashed absolute mania for five rounds in a dominant performance over TUF alumni Uriah Hall. Strickland, more recently known for slapping ADCC Champ Orlando Sanchez after a BJJ roll, proved his worth with a crippling output of strikes on the Karate black belt. Utilizing solid octagon control, Strickland weathered early resistance from Hall in round one in the form of big jabs, and a spinning back kick. The accidental groin shot aside, Strickland was all above board in R1.
Despite a few good starts in rounds two and five, Strickland landed all the fights takedowns, maintained top control, and outpaced Hall in nearly every category. Landing big knees from the clinch, Strickland kept up the barrage to the closing bell with a spinning elbow and knee to close the show. To the surprise of no one, Strickland was awarded the unanimous decision victory.
So Yea, don’t sleep on fight nights, everybody!
Hulk Steps Up at BJJ Bet
BJJ Bet continues to showcase incredible matchups in the submission grappling world, with their latest card pitting former ADCC champ Lucas “Hulk” Barbosa against IBJJF legend Leandro Lo. Both black belts went in hard with hand fighting from the jump, Barbosa shot in for a takedown, but Lo quickly scrambled for position. Both grapplers were reset to the center and resumed wrestling after rolling off the mat. Lo defended another shot from Barbosa and shot out for one of his own. Barbosa evaded and took the chance to jump right to Lo’s back.
Lo stayed out of danger and initiated another scramble, but Barbosa once again took his back off of another failed takedown attempt. Barbosa tried to lock in an RNC, but Lo was able to hold out and defend well. Barbosa reset and tried again, locking in the grip and quickly getting the tap. Barbosa was declared the winner via submission.
Think Barbosa has earned another shot at Gordon Ryan? Who’d you like for him to fight next?
That’s all for this week. Tune in next time to find out why Combat Jiujitsu should add knives!
Aces BJJ Blog staff writer and BJJ Blue belt under Edward “Scissor Hands” Berberich of Soulcraft BJJ. Kevin has been training BJJ for four years and complaining about Star Wars for over 20. Follow him on Instagram @kbrads_bjj