Dual-champion Freire (32-4 MMA, 20-4 BMMA) puts his featherweight title on the line against McKee (17-0 MMA, 17-0 BMMA) in the grand prix final, which headlines Bellator 263 on Saturday.
Arguably one of the most important fights in Bellator history, two of the promotion’s top talents have been jawing back-and-forth, which has built up the already highly anticipated matchup even more. Both McKee and his father Antonio claimed that Freire hasn’t evolved over the years, and “Pitbull” is ready to make them eat their words.
“Pay close attention on July 31,” Freire told MMA Junkie in his native Portuguese. “A.J. McKee will pay for all the sh-t he and his father have been saying for years.”
A.J. McKee seeks to validate family name with title win against 'Pitbull' at Bellator 263
Video: Patricio 'Pitbull' predicts a second-round submission victory over A.J. McKee at Bellator 263
Video: A.J. McKee and Patricio 'Pitbull' face off ahead of Bellator 263
Freire thinks he’s fought the much tougher competition, not just in the grand prix, but throughout his career. Unbeaten McKee has looked near flawless in the cage, but Freire says “Mercenary” is yet to fight someone in their prime, and he plans on making their clash a rude awakening for him.
“Most of his opponents stepped into the cage with him already expecting to lose,” Freire said. “And the biggest names he beat were already in decline, some quite different than from their career apex. I am at my apex, and there are many more things I plan to conquer in this sport. I’m walking into this fight with the intention of beating him up and walking away with a victory.”
He continued, “My focus is on my legacy. I’m not thinking about money now. I’m thinking about winning the fight. After the fight, I can think about the money.”
Bellator 263 takes place Saturday at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif. The main card airs on Showtime following prelims on MMA Junkie.