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After starting nearly two years ago, Bellator concludes their Featherweight Grand Prix on Saturday at Bellator 263. Watch the journey to the finals.
Bellator 263 goes out on Saturday, July 31, 2021 at 7 p.m. ET, with the prelims on YouTube and the main card on Showtime. The main event is the final of a Featherweight Grand Prix that started in September 2019. Reigning champion Patricio Pitbull will defend his title against the last challenger standing in his way. Despite being the most accomplished Bellator fighter of all time, Pitbull may have his toughest fight ever against AJ McKee Jr.
McKee’s career has been a great example of how Bellator can develop prospects. Since signing with Bellator in 2015, McKee has fought all of his seventeen pro fights with the promotion. At 26, McKee has a record of 17-0 with six entries and six KO/TKOs. McKee attends Bellator 263’s main event and gets the chance to skyrocket his fanbase and solidify his legacy.
The Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix originally started with sixteen fighters. Other fighters involved were Darrion Caldwell, Derek Campos, Georgi Karakhanyan, Emmanuel Sanchez, Pedro Carvalho, Tywan Claxton, Sam Sicilia, Pat Curran, Adam Borics, Daniel Straus, Daniel Weichel, Saul Rogers, Henry Corrales and Juan Archuleta. Before Bellator 263 wraps up the tournament on Saturday, let’s see how we finished among our two finalists.
Patricio Pitbull retains title en route to Bellator 263 main event
Pitbull started the Grand Prix by defending his title against former bantamweight champion Archuleta. Despite it being Pitbull’s opening round, Archuleta gave him a run for his money and eventually went to the decision. After a grueling five rounds, Pitbull took the unanimous decision win and retained the featherweight title.
Carvalho earned a shot at the title after beating Sicilia in the opening round of the Grand Prix via submission in the second round. Pitbull came in as a big gambling favorite and showed why early in the fight. Carvalho was caught off guard and Pitbull ended the fight with a KO on the right in the first round. With two wins under his belt, Pitbull advanced to the semifinals.
Sanchez found himself against the champion after beating Claxton in the opening round and taking a unanimous decision win over Weichel in the quarterfinals. Having fought Pitbull once before, Sanchez had a solid chance to make adjustments and dethrone the king. Unfortunately, his hopes did not last long as Pitbull ended the fight by submitting on the first round. With three successful title defenses in the Grand Prix, Pitbull faces one challenger standing in the way of perfection.
AJ McKee Jr. remains undefeated and goes Bellator 263. in
McKee started the Grand Prix against a tough veteran in Karakhanyan. Although McKee was the betting favorite going into the fight, fans waited to see how the young star would cope with the pressures of the tournament. McKee managed to exceed expectations by knocking out Karakhanyan in just 8 seconds.
In the quarter-finals, Campos found himself against McKee after beating Straus by decision in the opening round. Campos mainly fights at lightweight but showed potential at featherweight with the win over Straus. McKee came in as a huge gambling favorite and once again proved its worth. He finished the fight in the third round via submission and hit his ticket to the semifinals.
Caldwell entered the semifinals and had the best chance of beating McKee. After beating Corales in the opening round and Borics in the quarter-finals, Caldwell showed he could win in the Grand Prix. His well-rounded skills and experience made Caldwell a tough matchup for McKee stylistically.
That said, McKee has continued to exceed expectations throughout his career. Mckee landed on his back early and sank into a modified guillotine choke to take the first round win. Now there’s only one man standing in the way of McKee becoming the featherweight champion and winning the $1 million prize.
Bellator 263 will take place on July 31, 2021, live from Forum in Los Angeles, CA. Follow FanSided, who is at the cage for all your live news and highlights.
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