Rhys McKee to Face Aleksi Mäntykivi in Cage Warriors Return

Photo credit: Dolly Clew / Cage Warriors

Ballymena fighter Rhys “Skeletor” McKee (10-4-1) will face Finland’s Aleksi Mäntykivi (13-6) in a welterweight bout at Cage Warriors 129 on Saturday 2nd October. The promotion revealed the matchup via Twitter on Friday morning.

McKee will make his return to Cage Warriors following a disappointing UFC stint, which saw him suffer defeat at the hands of worldwide prospect Khamzat Chimaev and then 10-fight UFC veteran Alex Morono.

During the 25-year-old’s first undefeated Cage Warriors tenure, McKee rose to prominence dispatching Jefferson George, Perry Goodwin, and Hakon Foss inside the distance. There was much talk of a Cage Warriors welterweight title shot after the Foss win in Cork at CW110, but the UFC snapped the Next Generation N.I. fighter up on short notice, when McKee was signed to face Chimaev at UFC Fight Night: Whittaker vs Till, just a week before the event.

Despite losing both of his UFC fights, many expected the promotion to offer McKee another chance given the short-notice nature of his debut, and the exciting performance against Morono. It was not to be this time though, and now all attention will be on his upcoming opponent Aleksi Mäntykivi.

The Finnish fighter is no stranger to Cage Warriors having previously faced Jack Grant and Mason Jones, though he lost both of those fights. However, Mäntykivi holds a victory over former Cage Warriors lightweight champion Soren Bak in 2016. With 8 finishes on his record, this matchup should be an exciting affair. It will be the first time Mäntykivi competes in MMA since the 2019 loss to Mason Jones at Cage Warriors 108. He was scheduled to face Madars Fleminas earlier this year at Cage Warriors 124, but Fleminas withdrew due to injury, and the bout fell through.

For McKee though, this isn’t simply a return to the regional scene. Speaking to SevereMMA, “Skeletor” expressed his motivation to make a statement when he dons those yellow Cage Warriors gloves once again. At just 25 years of age, the goal is a return to the big stage in time:

“I am ready for the next step in my career. People say post UFC is harder to find motivation, but I’m hungrier than ever! I made it to the highest level at 24, before my prime. Watch me do it all again! 2nd October will be nothing short of a showcase.”

– Rhys McKee speaking to SevereMMA on his return to Cage Warriors

Cage Warriors 129 takes place on Saturday 2nd October, and fans can watch Rhys McKee on UFC FightPass.

Andy is a writer, interviewer, and occasional podcaster. Andy's work features on SevereMMA.com, The Severe MMA Podcast, and EuroMMAHub.com. Andy heavily focuses on the Irish MMA scene. Feel free to reach out to Andy on Twitter @andyste123