A.J. McKee seeks to validate his family’s name with title-winning performance against ‘Pitbull’ at Bellator 263

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. –A.J. McKee has the opportunity to become Bellator’s featherweight grand prix winner and take home Patricio Freire’s title in the process with a victory at Bellator 263.

However, winning the fight and becoming the ‘best fighter in Bellator history’ is just one piece of the story for McKee, who revealed he’s fighting to validate his family’s name and continue the championship legacy with a win in the biggest fight of his career.

McKee’s headlining bout against Freire will serve as the main event of Bellator 263 which takes place at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., on July 31.

“In our house, we have a mural wall,” McKee stated speaking to MMA Junkie and other reporters outside of The Forum on Thursday. “My grandfather being a left-handed fighter, we called him ‘lefty’ – a boxer, and my father being a fighter, he has his world title, you know? So, we’ve got a picture of him on the wall and my Dad’s got his world title and we got a hand-painted picture of myself because there’s no world title.

“So, yeah, that’s the first step is becoming a world champion and continuing the legacy of being a champion.”

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As a young, undefeated fighter on the verge of realizing his championship dreams, McKee seems to be a very level-headed individual who doesn’t let the moment or the spotlight get to his head. He credits his dad’s advice, which comes from his own experience as a fighter, for that mentality.

“Remove your emotions and do what’s right,” McKee stated as the best piece of advice his father passed on to him. “At the end of the day, it’s a father-son relationship. It has its ups and downs, we butt heads, I don’t agree with some of the things he says sometimes, but at the end of the day, I got to rule my emotions and look at it for what it is.”

“That’s something he’s always keyed me in on, is staying focused,” McKee continued. “Focus yourself physically and mentally and the sky’s the limit, man. The mind is very powerful.”

Watch the full media scrum with McKee in the video above.

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How to watch Bellator 263: 'Pitbull' vs. McKee fight card, start time, streaming and ticket info