Undefeated Bellator featherweight champion A.J. McKee has become one of the top young stars in the sport but seems to have an uncertain future with the promotion currently.
McKee spoke with Ariel Helwani on the latest edition of The MMA Hour and provided an update on the current ongoing negotiations between his camp and Bellator. He revealed that his victory over Patricio Pitbull at Bellator 263 in the finals of the Bellator Featherweight World Grand Prix actually invoked a championship clause that extended his contract an additional three fights.
"Ya, I technically would've been a free agent. The fact that I beat him (Pitbull) I have a championship clause."
He continued on to say that before the three fights are up, that he and the promotion need to work out a new deal that hopefully matches the value McKee now feels he brings to Bellator. He also doesn't want to stay inactive much longer because of contract negotiations and thinks the trilogy matchup with Pitbull for the 155-pound title is the only fight that makes sense for him next.
"Yes, that's kind of where we're at, but I don't want to sit out too much longer either, that's the other thing," McKee said. "I'm 26-years old, prime years, just came off of a knee surgery through the tournament. Like if I'm knocking people out, we need to be running them back. I'm still in the gym, I went to the gym the same week following the fight. I need to be back in there before the year's over. That's the only fight that makes sense, but Pitbull, he needs a break. I want both of the belts. That's my cake and me eating it too. I would like that, I think that should happen. It's the fight everybody wants to see. I'm sure a lot of people think it was a fluke the first time, so let's put the icing on the cake."
McKee made it clear though that he has no specific desires to jump ship to the UFC and believes what Bellator provides him from an endorsement opportunity specifically could be enormous. He also hopes to be the fighter that changes the structure of fighter pay within the sport.
"The fighters make the promotion, the promotion doesn't make the fighter," he said. "For me, I feel at home with Bellator and the things that I can do endorsement-wise. I want to get this Undefeated deal, I want to go get a Porsche deal, a Cadillac deal. Obviously, I already have a Monster deal, I want the Snickers deal. There's big things with companies that I feel haven't really got their feet wet within the mixed martial arts community. Me just being what I call myself the new wave, the new era. A younger Jon Jones, a better Jon Jones. I feel like I can be the one to bring big endorsements back into the sport, like Nike, like Gatorade. I'm looking to change the sport. I call myself the Floyd (Mayweather Jr.) of MMA for a reason. Not just to be undefeated, not to just be the best in the world, but man that $100 million dollar check, I feel like that's what's going to solidify mixed martial arts as a sport."