In the latest installment of Talking Brawls, Niall and Petesy caught up with AJ McKee, the potential next opponent of SBG’s James Gallagher. There has been quite a bit of back and forth between the two recently, and to no great surprise, McKee wasn’t shy about speaking his mind when quizzed on “The Strabanimal”. What was surprising, though, were his slightly backhanded compliments around the SBG man’s recent submission victory over Kirill Medvedovsky.
“It was alright. Same basic James, you know? He gets in trouble, he wants to try to get to somebody’s back and finish them with the rear naked choke. But hey, a win’s a win, you can’t knock it.”
There is already some water under the bridge between the two, with Gallagher claiming victory over Anthony Taylor in December and pointing out that McKee’s pre-fight comments gave him an inside track on Taylor. Needless to say, McKee wasn’t convinced that he had any part to play.
“He said that I gave him his gameplan and I told him that the gameplan was to take him down. Everyone knew that Anthony’s not going to take him down, because Anthony’s not a wrestler.”
Asked to further elaborate his thoughts on Gallagher’s comments of late, “Mercenary” didn’t mince his words.
“I don’t know, man, he’s the one that started talking smack and then I was like ‘of course I’m gonna try to be cool with you and your gym’. But you got you and every single teammate, I wanna see them come to my gym and mouth off. I’d beat that dude’s ass like a rag doll.”
“When you’re in somebody else’s gym you gotta respect that, you know? As far as him, he told me I was next. So, I told him ‘you’re gonna regret those words’. And literally, still to this day, I’m gonna make him regret those words”
“Now that he’s agreed to fight me, hopefully we can get that contract signed and send it back over, and I’ll legally be able to damn near murder him in that cage.”
With both Gallagher and McKee being rightfully touted as two of the brightest prospects on the Bellator roster, it has seemed inevitable that they’ll collide at some point. But McKee maintained that he hadn’t intentionally agitated for the fight and planted the blame on Gallagher for stoking the fire.
“No, I just don’t like being disrespected and the first impression is a big impression to me, and his first impression was shit. You walk up to somebody you don’t even know and say ‘you’re next’.
“And I’m not a shit-talker either, but when you bring it out of me, there’s a whole other beast you have to deal with when you do fire me up. I think James is gonna realise he fucked up when he did that.”
“Mercenary” was also adamant that he’s more motivated than he has ever been, and despite what Gallagher says publicly, the Tyrone native doesn’t want anything to do with him.
“I think he’s scared to fight. As a matter of fact, I know he’s scared to fight. And he’s talking about how he’s gonna whoop my ass, and I’m like ‘come on dude, you don’t even believe that yourself’.”
“It’s like I’ve got that fire back to put in that work, so it’s gonna be a very bad night for James when he steps in that cage. If he steps in that cage.”
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Niall McGrath and Petesy Carroll were joined by Rhys McKee, Ben Cartlidge and AJ McKee on Talking Brawls.
McKee also shed some light on why facing off against Gallagher appeals to him so much, pinpointing earlier public comments as the driving force for wanting to take down “The Strabanimal”.
“It started with the disrespect and then it started with him on his high horse, and he thinks he’s like the face of Bellator, the super-young superstar. And I’m like ‘hey buddy, you need to realise that you’re not the only one and there are people out there better than you, that will literally show you you’re not who you are’.
“I think everyone is just getting tired of him thinking that he’s this macho bad ass. So now, it’s time for somebody to do the shutting up.”
However, despite the furore around the fight, McKee insists that pen has not yet been put to paper; but he won’t be waiting around to make it official and as he looks to get his hands on Gallagher as soon as possible.
“No, not yet. So, hopefully, they [Bellator] contact me within this week. If not, I’ll be definitely contacting them by next week. I don’t really care, I mean we’re trying to get this fight on as soon as possible. I wanna slap that dude in his face and give him a nice bitch slap.”
Interestingly, McKee also spoke of his plans to step into the cage opposite his father and fellow fighter, Antonio McKee, who also may be returning in the near future.
“We’re definitely gonna do a father-son thing. That’s another thing on my bucket list for checking off. I wanna go down in the history books and to do things that no-one has ever done before.”
Father-son bouts aside, McKee refused to be distracted from his end-game of getting Bellator gold strapped around his waist. He spoke positively about current Bellator featherweight champion, Daniel Strauss, who he has called out several times, but made no bones about his intention to take Gallagher out en route to the belt.
“Strauss, he’s the champ, he’s the man. At the end of the day, that’s my goal right there. Anybody else is just a stepping stone. If I’ve to fight James, it’s a step down from that. But hey, if it’s a fight that people wanna see, then it’s a fight I’m willing to give them and a fight I’m willing to take, as long as he’s willing to sign that contract.”