Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
With both fighters competing within one week of each other, McKee recently responded to criticism about how his resume stacks up next to Volkanovski’s UFC run.
“What the f*** is he talking about?” McKee told The Fighter vs. The Writer. “This man mentioned my name? Oh yeah, Volkanovski, talk to Uncle Dana [White] ASAP, player. Bring it over to Showtime. Let McKee do his mercenary thing. The audacity of this man.
“Level of competition. Bro, my four year old brother has better wrestling and jiu-jitsu than you. Get this guy. Do you know how to stop a double-leg? That’s my one question.”
McKee has never been shy about his belief that he is the best featherweight in the sport regardless of promotion, but that declaration has typically been met with questions about how he would fare against fighters like Volkanovski. While it’s entirely possible the fight could still happen down the road, he isn’t getting lost in the debate about the UFC versus Bellator.
“I think people tend to forget that the fighters make the organization, not the organizations make the fighters,” McKee said. “It’s our skill sets as athletes that has got the UFC the representation they have. I feel like my skill set has gotten not only me, but Bellator the recognition that we deserve as a company, me as an individual and I’m looking forward to testing my skills against anyone who claims they’re the best cause at the end of the day, I know I’m the best.”
While the UFC’s size and scale is undeniable as the biggest MMA promotion across the globe, McKee refutes the idea that places like Bellator don’t offer him quality competition. Ultimately, he sees that bias as the reason why Volkanovski or anybody else would question his resume, especially when looking at the way he’s dispatched opponents to this point in his career.
“This is where I feel like my mindset as the fighters making the organization is different from other fighters,” McKee explained. “These fighters think that the organization is what’s making the fighters and you can tell in his mindset of ‘oh well A.J. McKee has never fought top level competition.’ Bro, a fight is a fight. Have you ever been in a street fight? It’s a fight. It doesn’t matter level of competition. You can get caught at any point, any moment.
“But for me, how many losses does Volkanovski have? How many losses does this person have? There’s no one that is undefeated like myself with the finish rate like myself with the mixed martial arts record like myself. 13 finishes, six subs, five knockouts. Bro, look at the stats. 10 finishes in the first round. The day Volkanovski can come to me with his stats looking even halfway looking like that, then bro can say something to me. Until then, I’m going to big-brother him like [Patricio] ‘Pitbull.’ I’m going to put my shades on and look at him so he doesn’t even know if I’m looking at him, but I’m still going to be looking straight at him. Just giving him that look like you have no idea what you’re talking yourself into.”
In his current position with Bellator, McKee couldn’t just jump over to the UFC for any fight, but he’s confident the powers-that-be behind the Paramount-owned company would back him if Volkanovski received the same permission.
It’s safe to say, however, McKee isn’t holding his breath on that actually happening.
“In all honesty, I would like to just unify the belts,” McKee said. “Whoever feels like they’re the baddest man, come step up to the plate. That’s the way it should be done and that’s something that I learned from the boxing world.
“[Volkanovski] can try to hype himself up but he’s protected by the UFC. Until he’s not protected by the UFC, I don’t want to hear anything by anybody. I’m not protected. I’m an open book. If somebody feels they’re the best, like I said, unify these belts, bring it on.”