For the first time this year — on the final night of July, Bellator MMA will hold a Saturday night show, as this week, Bellator 263 takes place inside The Forum in Inglewood, CA.
In your Bellator 263 main event, incumbent featherweight champion Patricio Pitbull (Freire) (32-4) will battle undefeated challenger (and No. 1 contender) AJ McKee (17-0) for supremacy at featherweight.
As is now customary, coverage of this Bellator MMA event, its first outside of The Fightsphere in Uncasville, CT at Mohegan Sun Arena since October of 2020, will broadcast live on the promotion’s United States TV home, the Showtime premium cable network beginning at 10 pm ET/ 7 pm PT.
Barring any late postponements on the card for any reason, the final version of Bellator 263 will feature a total of 10 bouts, including the headliner for the Bellator MMA World Featherweight Championship.
Bellator 263 Main Event Fighter Comparison
Heading into the Bellator 263 main event, which also serves as the Bellator Featherweight World Grand Prix Final, challenger McKee is the taller man of the two, standing 5-foot-9, with champion Freire standing 5-foot-5.
Additionally, the challenger owns an eight-inch reach advantage (73 1/2 inches to 65 1/2 inches) over the champion going into one of the most anticipated fights in the promotion’s history.
Pitbull Enters Bellator 263 With One Clear Goal in Mind
Patricio Freire has posted a 5-0 record over his last five MMA appearances as part of an ongoing seven-match winning streak, a run extended on April 2 during the Bellator 255 main event from The Fightsphere at Mohegan Sun.
On Good Friday, Freire secured his spot in the July 31 final by locking in a first-round submission via guillotine choke against Emmanuel Sanchez.
After the fight, the champion gave an interview with USA Today’s MMA Junkie where he stated his goal for this coming weekend’s championship bout, saying:
“It’s the perfect final (scene) for the movie,” he replied. “He’s undefeated, I am the champion. Let’s see what’s going to happen, and I know what’s going to happen. …I know he’s good. He’s young. But I told him, ‘To be a complete fighter is to be defeated.’ And he will be defeated by me.”
In that same interview, Freire continued speaking of his opponent in the Bellator 263 main event with:
“It’s a fight of five rounds. He’s going to come to a place where it’s a competition fight for the belt. It’s different. The fight preparation — everything. Everything is going to happen. He knows my power. He knows I’m dangerous. I know he’s scared.”
McKee Hopes To Defend Family Honor at Bellator 263
In the other corner, McKee enters the Bellator 263 main event having yet to lose in his professional MMA career.
The challenger last fought right before the Thanksgiving holiday inside the United States back in November of 2020 when he locked in a first-round submission due to neck crank versus Darrion Caldwell at Bellator 253.
Recently, McKee was flanked by the press and said that he’s looking to defend his family honor at Bellator 263, explaining his rationale thusly:
“In our house, we have a mural wall. 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 of becoming a world champion and continuing the legacy of being a champion.”
Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction
Stylistically, the Bellator 263 main event looks to be another toss-up, with Freire being a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and McKee being a more-rounded combatant, subscribing to wrestling, BJJ, boxing, karate, kickboxing, and judo.
Watch Out for Freire’s Ground Game
A paramount aspect in this Bellator 263 main event is undoubtedly going to be the ground game of both men — and one need not look far in the film room for examples of aggression on the ground.
Freire dumped Sanchez with a brilliantly-placed left-handed shot in the semifinal, followed by a brief flurry of ground and pound before finally getting enough torque to lock in that guillotine choke — this after jumping on Sanchez to strengthen the hold.
If Freire is to retain his belt through four rounds of a Grand Prix tournament, he will need to get his opponent on the ground in any way possible. All it will take is as little as one shot and it could very well be the end of the story in the Bellator 263 main event.
Don’t Forget About McKee’s Ground Game
McKee can end the story with a quick stoppage of his own in the Bellator 263 main event — just as he did before Thanksgiving against Caldwell.
That night, all he needed to send Caldwell away from the ranks of the undefeated in the featherweight division was to establish position on his back to secure that neck crank, using his arm and hand to provide the torque on his opponent, who had no other choice to tap and nap.
In conclusion, expect the Bellator 263 main event to bring competitive violence of the highest order on Saturday night.
Prediction: Patricio Freire by First-Round Submission.
Featured Image Credits To Bellator MMA