In the main event of Bellator 253, Darrion Caldwell was taking on A.J. McKee in the semifinals of the featherweight grand prix.
Darrion Caldwell (14-3) is riding a two-fight winning streak with both wins coming in the featherweight grand prix. In the opening round of the tournament, he defeated Henry Corrales by decision and then followed that up with a first-round submission win over Adam Borics. Before entering the grand prix, Caldwell lost back-to-back fights to Kyoji Horiguchi for the RIZIN bantamweight title and to lose his Bellator bantamweight title. He defended his bantamweight title once but does hold notable wins over Leandro Higo, Noad Lahat, Joe Warren, and Eduardo Dantas.
A.J. McKee (16-0) is one of the top prospects in all of MMA and all 16 of his pro fights have taken place in Bellator. The 25-year-old is coming off a third-round submission win over Derek Campos and before that had a highlight-reel one-punch eight-second KO over Georgi Karakhanyan.
The winner of the fight will go on to meet the winner of Patricio Pitbull vs. Emmanuel Sanchez for the featherweight title and one million dollars.
Round one starts with McKee throwing a kick that misses. Caldwell goes for an early takedown and gets it. McKee has Caldwell in full guard but is landing shots from the bottom. WOW! A.J. McKee starts to get a neck crank and submits Caldwell off his back in round one. What a very impressive performance from McKee who remains undefeated. Many viewed this as the 25-year-old’s toughest fight of his career and he made it look easy with a first-round submission. He said all week he would finish and make Caldwell work and he did just that.
Official Result: A.J. McKee def. Darrion Caldwell via submission (neck crank) at 1:11 of Round 1
Do you think A.J. McKee will win the entire grand prix? Sound off in the comment section, PENN Nation!