Bellator 182 post-event facts: Unbeaten A.J. McKee makes history

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Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News

Former Bellator champion Andrey Koreshkov made a triumphant return to competition on Friday when he defeated Chidi Njokuani in Bellator 181’s headliner at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, N.Y.

Koreshkov (20-2 MMA, 11-2 BMMA) stepped back in the cage after losing the Bellator welterweight title in his previous bout when he earned a first-round TKO of Njokuani (17-5 MMA, 4-1 BMMA) in the Spike-televised contest. Prelims streamed on MMAjunkie.

For all the numbers to come out of Bellator’s latest event, check below for 20 post-event facts.

* * * *

General

Betting favorites went 2-1 on the main card. One fight had even odds.

Betting favorites improved to 9-3 (with one at even odds) in Bellator main events this year.

Total fight time for the four-bout main card was 45:10.

* * * *

Main card

Koreshkov’s 11 victories in Bellator welterweight competition are tied with champion Douglas Lima for most in divisional history.

Koreshkov has earned 14 of his 20 career victories by stoppage.

Koreshkov has earned all of his Bellator stoppage victories by knockout.

Koreshkov’s six stoppage victories in Bellator welterweight competition are tied with Michael Page for second most in divisional history behind Lima (seven).

Njokuani had his nine-fight winning streak snapped for his first defeat since March 2013.

Njokuani has suffered all of his career losses by stoppage.

Njokuani suffered his first knockout loss since Aug. 20, 2011 – a span of 2,197 days and 15 fights.

Brennan Ward (14-6 MMA, 9-6 BMMA) fell to 4-3 since he dropped to the Bellator welterweight division in February 2015.

Ward has suffered all of his career losses by stoppage.

All 15 of Ward’s Bellator fights have ended in a stoppage.

Bruna Ellen (4-1 MMA, 2-1 BMMA) has earned both of her Bellator victories by decision.

Ellen has earned three of her four career victories by decision.

Veta Arteaga (3-2 MMA, 2-2 BMMA) has suffered both of her career losses by decision.

A.J. McKee’s (9-0 MMA, 9-0 BMMA) nine-fight Bellator winning streak is the longest active streak in the company.

McKee’s nine-fight Bellator winning streak is the longest streak in company history.

McKee’s nine-fight Bellator winning streak in featherweight competition is the longest active streak in the division.

Blair Tugman (10-7 MMA, 5-2 BMMA) fell to 2-1 since he moved up to the Bellator featherweight division in November 2016.

For complete coverage of Bellator 182, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Bellator 182 highlights: Watch Koreshkov's overwhelming GNP, Gonzalez's fast-acting guillotine

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Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News, Videos

The top of Friday’s Bellator 182 card featured a pair of welterweight fights that gave the fighters an opportunity to assert their positions in the pecking order for a future title shot.

In the main event, former champ Andrey Koreshkov (20-2 MMA, 11-2 BMMA) took out Chidi Njokuani (17-5 MMA, 4-1 BMMA) in the first round in his first fight since losing the title to Douglas Lima. But was it enough to jump the line over a name like Rory MacDonald?

In the co-main event, Fernando Gonzalez (27-14 MMA, 7-1 BMMA) shocked Brennan Ward (14-6 MMA, 9-6 BMMA) with a perfectly timed guillotine choke in the third round, taking him to 7-1 in the promotion with just a split-decision loss to Michael Page as a blemish on his Bellator resume. So where does he fit in now?

Bellator 182 took place Friday at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, N.Y. The main card aired on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.

Also on the main card, Bruna Ellen (4-1) took a split decision from Veta Artaega (3-2), and A.J. McKee (9-0) kept his perfect record as a pro with a unanimous decision win over a bloodied-up Blair Tugman (10-7)

For more on Bellator 182, including a full event recap, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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5 reasons to watch 'Bellator 182: Koreshkov vs. Njokuani,' hiding under the MayMac radar

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With Rory MacDonald seemingly next in line for a shot at welterweight champion Douglas Lima, the pressure is on the four fighters atop Friday’s Bellator 182 event.

In the main event, former champ Andrey Koreshkov looks to put his November title-losing knockout defeat to Lima behind him against the surging, but largely untested, Chidi Njokuani. In the co-main event, Brennan Ward hopes to put a 1-2 run in the rearview mirror against fellow veteran Fernando Gonzalez.

With McDonald vs. Lima likely on the horizon and Paul Daley vs. Lorenz Larkin booked for September, anything less than dominant wins from the headliners could find them lost in the shuffle of the competitive welterweight division.

Also on the main card is rising featherweight star A.J. McKee. McKee puts his unbeaten record on the line against the most experienced opponent he’s ever faced, 10-year vet Blair Tugman.

Bellator 182 takes place at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, N.Y. The main acrd airs on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.

Here are five reasons to watch the event.

1. Former champ vs. rising contender

Koreshkov won the welterweight belt in July 2015 with a decision win over Lima. In his first defense, Koreshkov spoiled the Bellator debut of former WEC/UFC champion lightweight champion Benson Henderson when he swept him on the judges scorecards. A rematch with Lima followed. Koreshkov was about a 3-1 favorite before that fight, but Lima turned those odds on their head in the third round when he caught an overly aggressive Koreshkov with a fight-ending left hook.

Njokuani is on the best run of his MMA career. He’s unbeaten in nine straight fights, including his most recent outing – a unanimous decision win over Melvin Guillard. Koreshkov (19-2 MMA, 10-2 BMMA) represents a huge step up for Njokuani (17-4-1 MMA, 4-0 BMMA), and the timidity he showed early in the Guillard fight is a concern against a tactician like Koreshkov.

Koreshkov, currently No. 14 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA welterweight rankings, paid with his title when he lost his composure against Lima. Don’t expect that to happen again. Expect this fight to be a technical battle in which both men look to fight at range and capitalize on openings as they present themselves.

2. Coming back from a rough one

Devastating would be one way to describe Ward’s January knockout loss to Daley. Daley ended Ward’s night midway through the second round when he laid him out with a flying knee. A bloodied Ward left the cage on a stretcher with a nasty cut near his eye that was about the size of Daley’s kneecap.

Bellator 182 is Ward’s (14-5 MMA, 9-5 BMMA) first return to the cage since that head-rattling loss. His opponent in the 178-pound catchweight contest, Gonzalez (26–14, 6-1 BMMA), most recently fought in March when he earned a decision win over Brandon Girtz.

Ward always has been an aggressive fighter who goes for the early finish. He’s left the first round just once in his past eight fights. It’s going to be interesting to see if the loss to Daley, just the second KO defeat of his career, has Ward rethinking his ultra-aggressive strategy against the often slow-starting Gonzalez.

3. Fully on board

A.J. McKee’s MMA career began with five straight finishes inside the Bellator cage. With a run like that, it was no surprise McKee was tagged as a future featherweight star. That talk slowed after he won his next two fights by decision. McKee didn’t look bad in those fights, but both performances were missing something. Whatever that was, McKee found it in his most recent bout when he knocked out Dominic Mazzotta with a first-round head kick.

After that highlight-reel stoppage, McKee said his motivation might have slipped a bit in his two previous bouts.

“Honestly, this is just me getting serious now, locking down and really focusing on my career,” McKee said. “This is my life. This is my career. This is what I do for a living — just being 100 percent on board now, training like an animal and putting in that work every day.”

The re-energized McKee faces a much more experienced opponent at Bellator 182. Tugman (10-6 MMA, 5-2 BMMA) has twice as many fights as McKee (8-0 MMA, 8-0 BMMA), but his record is not nearly as stellar. Tugman has won his past three fights, most recently a submission victory over Tom English at Bellator 178.

Another thing to look forward to in this fight, if McKee wins, is the inevitable trash talk he’ll undoubtedly direct at fellow unbeaten rising star James Gallagher.

4. Different goals

Chris Honeycutt and Ben Reiter

The middleweight bout between Chris Honeycutt and Kevin Casey is an interesting matchup. Pegged as a hot welterweight prospect upon signing with the promotion in 2014, Honeycutt won two fights by knockout before Paul Bradley stopped him in 40 seconds in January 2016. The knockout loss was Honeycutt’s first career defeat.

Honeycutt reined in his aggression a bit after that loss and concentrated on shoring up his overall game. The result has been three consecutive decision wins. Most recently, he defeated Ben Reiter at a catchweight of 195 pounds. During that fight, Honeycutt let some wild striking creep back into his arsenal.

With his confidence back, Honeycutt (9-1 MMA, 4-1 BMMA), who moved to middleweight in mid-2016, looks to make his way up the 185-pound rankings against Casey (9-5-2 MMA, 0-0-1 BMMA).

Casey is winless in his past five bouts. Most recently, he had a majority draw in his Bellator debut against Keith Berry. Casey came close to finishing that contest in the first round, but the resilient Berry stayed alive. Casey faded badly as the fight wore on, allowing Berry to tie things up on the scorecards.

A win over Honeycutt would provide a huge boost in confidence for Casey, who has not had his hand raised in victory since July 2015.

5. One year later

Joey Davis finished his college wrestling career at Notre Dame College in Ohio as a four-time NCAA Division II champion. He accomplished that feat by going a perfect 131-0, becoming only the third college wrestler to end his college career without a loss. The other two wrestlers who went unbeaten were Cael Sanderson who put together a 159-0 record in Division I and former UFC fighter Marcus LeVesseur, whose Division III record was 155-0.

Davis signed with Bellator in June 2016 after winning each of his five amateur MMA bouts. The promotion didn’t waste any time getting Davis into his first pro bout, throwing him on Bellator 160 a year ago against Keith Cutrone.

Davis looked tentative in that fight, which he won by decision. He knocked Cutrone down early, but his striking game was reliant on single punches, and the lack of combinations didn’t allow Davis to set up his power shots. Not surprisingly, Davis’ takedown game was impressive. He was able to hold Cutrone down once the fight hit the mat, but he fell short in his ground striking. Davis appears to have the tools for success – he just needs time to learn how to implement them.

It’s been nearly a year since the Cutrone fight. What fans want to watch for is how Davis has progressed during that time under coach Antonio McKee.

Davis (1-0 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) faces Justin Roswell in a 175-pound catchweight bout. Roswell (1-1 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) is 1-1 with a first-round submission win and a first-round TKO defeat on his record.

For more on Bellator 182, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Undefeated A.J. McKee wants rival James Gallagher for next fight after Bellator 182

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When undefeated Bellator featherweight A.J. McKee was offered a fight with Blair Tugman at Bellator 182, he shrugged his shoulders and accepted.

“If they say ‘Hey, we want you to fight this guy,’ that’s the guy I’m going to fight,” McKee told MMAjunkie.

At the same time, the booking sidestepped a ready-made rivalry with James Gallagher. The two repeatedly have called each other out in interviews.

A ready-made rivalry is a precious commodity in the fight game, and it could be the Viacom-owned promotion is waiting for a McKee-Gallagher matchup to reach critical mass before pairing them. McKee (8-0 MMA, 8-0 BMMA) doesn’t question Bellator’s decision to keep them apart, but he doesn’t want to wait much longer to face the Irish prospect.

After all, McKee is working on a timeline, and his first task is to dispatch his avowed enemies.

“Once I begin to get after my other goals, I’m not going to want to take a step down for the easy paycheck,” he said. “There’s a time schedule for some things that I want to do.”

McKee’s current plan is to dispatch Tugman (10-6 MMA, 5-2 BMMA) quickly when they meet Friday on Bellator 182’s Spike-televised main card at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, N.Y. McKee said that will give him the longest win streak among Bellator fighters.

After that, McKee wants an opponent in the top five of the featherweight division. And if he wins that, he wants a title shot; currently, the belt is held by Patricio “Pitbull” Freire.

At 22, McKee’s goal is to become the youngest MMA champion in history, beating Jon Jones by one year.

“He holds the records, and records are history,” McKee said of the currently embattled UFC light heavyweight champion. “I’m looking forward to making new records.”

McKee also doesn’t rule out a trip to the lightweight, where his height and reach make him competitive among the division’s veterans.

“I’ll be faster and definitely a lot stronger,” he said. “Those are the bigger advantages.”

Perhaps the biggest, however, is a drive to see through his career ambitions. McKee was rocked by a knee from opponent Ray Wood this past December and nearly was finished. He said he walked into the cage with little desire to fight, and the result taught him a lesson about how quickly dreams can be taken away.

“If you’re knocking everybody out within 1 minute and thirty seconds of a fight, and you train three months for that fight, and you’ve had that happen five fights in a row, that’s two years. It gets old,” he said. “You get bored. You want to start doing other things. It was an eye-opener of what’s ahead, like, ‘Hey, dude, you’ve worked so hard to get here, and you’re just going to throw it away because you don’t want to do this?’”

Boredom remains McKee’s biggest enemy as he progresses. But he tries to beat that feeling back with every trip to the arena.

“Now I’m more focused than ever and ready to put on a show,” he said.

For more on Bellator 182, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Bellator 182 pre-event facts: A.J. McKee looks to join history books

Bellator returns from a more than month-long hiatus on Friday with Bellator 182, which takes place at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, N.Y., with a Spike-televised main card following prelims on MMAjunkie.

In the welterweight headliner, former champ Andrey Koreshkov (19-2 MMA, 10-2 BMMA) returns for the first time since losing the title to Douglas Lima when he takes on Chidi Njokuani (17-4 MMA, 4-0 BMMA).

For more on the number’s behind Bellator’s latest event, check below for 20 pre-event facts about Bellator 182.

* * * *

Main event

Andrey Koreshkov

Koreshkov returns to competition for the first time since losing the Bellator welterweight title to Douglas Lima at Bellator 164 in November.

Koreshkov competes in his 13th Bellator welterweight bout, the most appearances in divisional history.

Koreshkov’s 10 victories in Bellator welterweight competition are tied with Lima for most in divisional history.

Koreshkov’s five stoppage victories in Bellator welterweight competition are tied for third most in divisional history behind Lima (seven) and Michael Page (six).

Koreshkov has earned all of his Bellator stoppage victories by knockout.

Chidi Njokuani

Njokuani enters the event on a nine-fight unbeaten streak. He hasn’t suffered a defeat since March 2013.

Njokuani has earned 10 of his 11 career stoppage victories by knockout.

Njokuani has suffered all four of his career losses by stoppage.

Co-main event

Brennan Ward

Brennan Ward (14-5 MMA, 9-5 BMMA) is 4-2 since he dropped to the Bellator welterweight division in February 2015.

Ward’s nine stoppage victories in Bellator competition are third most in company history behind Michael Chandler (10) and Patricio Freire (10).

Ward’s six knockout victories in Bellator competition are tied for fourth most in company history behind Lima (eight), Freire (seven) and Hector Lombard (seven).

All 14 of Ward’s Bellator fights have ended in a stoppage.

Fernando Gonzalez (26-14 MMA, 6-1 BMMA) has earned four of his six Bellator victories by decision.

Remaining main card

A.J. McKee

A.J. McKee’s (8-0 MMA, 8-0 BMMA) eight-fight Bellator winning streak is tied with Michael Page for the longest active streak in the company.

McKee’s eight-fight Bellator winning streak is tied with Page for the second longest streak in company history behind Ben Askren (nine).

McKee’s eight-fight Bellator winning streak in featherweight competition is the longest active streak in the division.

McKee has earned six of his eight career victories by stoppage

Blair Tugman (10-6 MMA, 5-1 BMMA) is 2-0 since he moved up to the Bellator featherweight division in November.

Tugman has earned four of his five Bellator victories by decision.

Bruna Ellen (3-1 MMA, 1-1 BMMA), 21, is the youngest of the eight scheduled main card fighters.

Veta Arteaga (3-1 MMA, 2-1 BMMA) competes in her fourth Bellator women’s flyweight bout, the third most appearances in divisional history behind Ilima Macfarlane (five) and Emily Ducote (five).

For more on Bellator 182, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Bellator 182 adds unbeaten A.J. McKee vs. Blair Tugman

Rising featherweight star A.J. McKee is set to take on Blair Tugman at Bellator 182, the promotion announced today.

Bellator 182 takes place Aug. 25 at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, N.Y. The event’s main card, which will feature McKee (8-0 MMA, 8-0 BMMA) against Tugman (10-6 MMA, 5-2 BMMA), airs live on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.com.

The booking gives McKee the chance to extend his unbeaten streak to nine after a head-kick knockout of Dominic Mazzotta in April at Bellator 178. Notably, it also keeps the 22-year-old prospect on a parallel track with budding rival James Gallagher.

McKee and Gallagher seemed destined to meet with dueling post-fight callouts earlier this year. Gallagher in February called McKee a crass name for the female anatomy, and McKee mocked Gallagher after his April win.

Yet Gallagher was booked opposite Chinzo Machida in May at Bellator 180, and McKee is now booked against Tubman.

It appears Bellator’s intention is to build the featherweight prospects until there’s no other option but to pair them in a must-see fight. Just how long it takes to reach that point is anyone’s guess.

One thing is certain: Tugman can play spoiler if he’s able to beat McKee. With three recent wins to his credit, he is 5-2 in the Bellator cage.

With the addition, the current Bellator 182 lineup includes:

  • Andrey Koreshkov vs. Chidi Njokuani
  • Fernando Gonzalez vs. Brennan Ward
  • A.J. McKee vs. Blair Tubman

For more on Bellator 182, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie