UNCASVILLE, Conn. – Like many viewers back home, Scott Coker was stunned by AJ McKee’s unusual finish in the Bellator 253 main event on Thursday.
Against former Bellator weightlifting champion Darrion Caldwell, McKee (17-0 MMA, 17-0 BMMA) pulled a rare, modified neck swing from guard on the road to a 71-second victory in the campaign’s featherweight Grand Prix semifinals.
“I have never seen such a submission,” Coker told the MMA Junkie at a post-match press conference. “The new name is ‘McKee-otine?’ This is the first time for me. I’ve seen all the different cranks. It took me a second to figure it out.
“I said afterwards to John McCarthy, I said, ̵
With the win, McKee remains undefeated and advances to the final of the tournament, where he will face the winner of Bellator featherweight champion Patricio Freire and Emmanuel Sanchez in 2021.
Neither the remaining semifinal match nor the subsequent final matchup has hard dates yet, but the Bellator president offered the campaign’s rough timeline.
“There’s a lot going on on the line and I know everyone wants to ask me so I might as well just bring it up: the time frame,” Coker said. “Look, I want the second match finished (at the end of January). At the end of March, we will try to get this match on. We are trying to get the final on. ”
When Freire (31-4 MMA, 19-4 BMMA) and Sanchez (20-4 MMA, 12-3 BMMA) fight, it will be the second time they compete against each other. In November 2018, Friere defeated Sanchez by unanimous decision in a featherweight defense.
McKee has finished all three of his tournament matches so far. After beating Georgi Karakhanyan in eight seconds in the opening round of the tournament, McKee sent Derek Campos to advance to the matchup with Caldwell.
Bellator 254 took place Thursday at the Mohegan Sun Arena. The main card was broadcast on the CBS Sports Network after the initials to MMA Junkie.