Patricio Pitbull is now a triple Bellator featherweight champion after avenging his loss to AJ McKee in the main name of Bellator 277.
Pitbull took home a unanimous decision with scores of 49-46, 48-47 and 48-47. McKee was visibly shocked by the decision after five rounds of a chess match with the multiple champion whose first two featherweight titles came in rematch.
“IN [our first fight]”I came in peace,” Pitbull said afterwards. “Today I went to war and I’ll bring the belt home.”
Unlike the first match, McKee and Pitbull did not get an explosive start. Aside from a side kick out of the gate, McKee was not eager to give up his marked height and gain advantage. When Freire exploded in with combinations, he circled away and continued to snatch from the outside. The audience at the SAP Center in San Jose, California, was not thrilled with that approach.
However, when McKee was unable to change levels at Pitbull, he became more impatient in the second round. It allowed Pitbull to pick kicks, using one to put the champion on the mat. Eager to get one back, McKee threw a knee and almost caught a concussion right hand, causing him to go back to kick.
The third round produced Pitbull’s best work as McKee played offensively and allowed him the counterattack he has mastered over the years. A right hand visibly stunned McKee visibly and forced a shot. Pitbull jumped on a guillotine choke, another signature move, and had the American for a few tense moments before an escape.
McKee went back to basics in the fourth and did his best work, landing Pitbull on his feet in exchanges. In the fifth round, Pitbull seemed to drop his foot off the gas in a round that produced few meaningful attacks. The guillotine choker clearly deprived Pitbull of his speed and power, and McKee managed to finish takedowns at the beginning and end of the round.
But in the end, the judges saw that Pitbull’s work was more significant and put him back in the winning column, after his first encounter with McKee ended in a first-round blowout.
“He’s a tough guy,” Freire said of McKee, who is suffering his first loss in 19 pro-outs. “He’s a great opponent. It was a tough fight for me, but I come to lay out my strategy [on]. “
McKee joins Pat Curran and Daniel Straus as opponents who have fallen short against Pitbull in featherweight title fights.
Unfortunate finish for the Bellator light-heavy grand prix
Vadim Nemkov remains lightweight champion despite a momentum shift that had Corey Anderson in control at the third round of their meeting in the final of the lightweight grand prix.
An unintentional head shot from Anderson opened a large laceration on Nemkov’s forehead and forced the doctor at the cage to interrupt the fight. Because the cut took place before the end of the third round, officials were forced to declare the match a no-contest, which brought an unsatisfactory end to the co-main event.
Pico knocks out tough Edwards
Aaron Pico repeatedly punished substitute Adli Edwards at short notice before one of his trademark body shots set the end in motion.
The referee stepped in to save Edwards just 55 seconds inside the third and final round, an achievement in itself for the tough fighter after taking half a dozen bullwhips to his liver area and more than double in his head. When Pico did not land body shots, he took light shots when his opponent moved to the counter. Then it went to the ground and knocked, and the elbows hit Edwards’ head. At the end of the second picture, his face was a map of torn reefs.
Pico is now on a six-match winning streak, after a few losses emptied his sails as one of Bellator’s most hyped up-and-comers. Originally he was scheduled to face Jeremy Kennedy, he has completed five out of six opponents and may need to go to another ranked opponent.
Vassell gets an insane comeback
Linton Vassell was on the verge of defeat after taking a short left hook from slugger Tim Johnson, and after being on the receiving end of earth and pound, his heavyweight dreams seemed to hit a wall. Johnson was initially able to resist his wrestling, and when he got back on his feet, he tilted back to the canvas, still dizzy after taking so many pictures.
Johnson bull-rushed the former light heavyweight Briton, thus ending up opening a cut in the forehead that may have given Vassell time to clear his head and turn position. When he first managed to get to the top, Vassell was brutal with elbows (at least one of which appeared to land illegally in the back of his head) and punches until the referee interrupted the match at the 4:21 mark in the opening frame. It was a chaotic, come from behind victory for Vassell, who has now won his last four. Johnson has now dropped three in a row.
Complete Bellator 277 results:
Patricio Freire def. AJ McKee by unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47)
Corey Anderson Vs. Vadim Nemkov is declared a no-contest (unintentional header) – round 3
Aaron Pico def. Adli Edwards via TKO (strikes) – Round 3, 0:55
Linton Vassell def. Timothy Johnson via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 4:21
Tyson Miller def. Rhalan Gracie via TKO (doctor stop) – round 1, 5:00
Tyrell Fortune def. Rakim Cleveland via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 1:38
Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov def. Rafael Carvalho via TKO (strikes) – round 2, 4:04
Bobby Seronio III def. Calob Ramirez via KO (stroke) – round 2, 2:14
Gaston Bolanos def. Daniel Carey via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 4:59
Kyle Crutchmer def. Michael Lombardo by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Edwin De Los Santos def. Alberto Mendez by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Rogelio Luna def. Socrates Hernandez via TKO (strikes) – round 3, 4:48
Laird Anderson def. JT Donaldson via submission (back-naked choke) – round 1, 2:44
Theo Haig def. Alan Benson via submission (naked choke back) – round 1, 2:08