Bellator 253: Caldwell vs. McKee Preview

The Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix continues this Thursday Night at the Mohegan Sun Arena, Darrion Caldwell (14-3) will take on Aj McKee Jr. (16-0), who is one of the hottest prospects in Mixed Martial Arts right now.

Bellator who are famed for their Grand Prix style tournaments have hit gold with this 145 pound tournament. The featherweight tournament started loaded with talent but has dwindled down to just four men. Last week, Patricio Pitbull booked his slot to the semi finals with a knockout victory over Pedro Carvalho. That same night Pitbull’s semi final opponent Emmanuel Sanchez progressed when he beat Daniel Weichel by unanimous decision.

It will be the turn of Darrion Caldwell and Aj McKee Jr. to see who will be named the first finalist and a much earned title shot. Caldwell has spent most of his career as a bantamweight, he is vying to become a two weight world champion having previously held the Bellator 135 pound title. He has been progressing slowly throughout this tournament and his quick submission victory over Adam Boric was sensational. Caldwell offers a lot of problems to the undefeated prospect McKee.

AJ McKee Jr. has amassed sixteen wins of his career all under the Bellator banner. McKee is a well rounded mixed martial artist, his record proves this, five wins by decision, five by submission and six knockout wins throughout his career so far. That a pretty impressive record and at only twenty-five years old he still has a long way to go.

I feel that McKee is one the hottest prospects in MMA right now and a win over Caldwell on Thursday night will cement that status. Caldwell is no joke, he is champion calibre who has great wrestling matched with an unorthodox stand-up game.

You would have to give the striking advantage and power advantage to McKee from what we have seen from both fighters. I would expect McKee to want to keep in standing while I would expect Caldwell to try and turn the fight into a dirty, gruelling encounter. This is a fascinating battle overall between too very well matched guys.

Benson Henderson (29-8) will take on Jason Jackson (12-4) is the evenings co-main event. Henderson has lost his last three bout and is in desperate need of a victory over Jackson, the Jamaican is riding a two fight win streak of his own.

Rounding off the three fight main card is a welterweight bout between Joey Davis (7-0) and Bobby Lee(12-4). Davis finished his wrestling career with 133 wins and 0 losses, one of only three guys to have ever gone undefeated in US college wrestling.

Canadian born Jeremy Kennedy tops the bill on the preliminary section of the card, he takes on veteran Matt Bessette (24-9) in the featherweight division. At 135 pounds, Keith Lee (7-3) squares off against Raufeon Stots (14-1). Kevin “Baby Slice” Ferguson (3-2), who is the son of Kimbo, takes on Kaheem Murray (3-3) at lightweight.

In the 170 pound division, Jaleel Willis (13-2) will make his Bellator debut when he takes on Mark Lemminger (11-2). Undefeated New Zealander, Jay Jay Wilson (6-0) will fight Sergio DeBari (5-1) at 145 pounds, and Sullivan Cauley (0-0) and Jason Markland (0-1) will get us started on the night in the opening bout on the card.

Main Card (Sky Sports Mix, midnight)

Featherweight: Darrion Caldwell vs. A.J. McKee [a]
Welterweight: Benson Henderson vs. Jason Jackson
Welterweight: Joey Davis vs. Bobby Lee


Preliminary card (Bellator YouTube Channel 8:45 pm)

Featherweight: Jeremy Kennedy vs. Matt Bessette

Bantamweight: Keith Lee vs. Raufeon Stots
Lightweight: Kevin Ferguson Jr. vs. Kaheem Murray
Welterweight: Jaleel Willis vs. Mark Lemminger
Lightweight: Marcus Surin vs. Ricardo Seixas
Featherweight: Jay Jay Wilson vs. Sergio de Bari
Light Heavyweight: Sullivan Cauley vs. Mark Glover

Ian O'Neill is a Kilkenny man living in Canada. You can catch him on Twitter most of the time talking all things MMA. Follow me on Twitter and on Instagram @ioneillmma.