AJ McKee puts his unblemished record on the line this Friday night when he faces off against Justin Lawrence in the co-main event of Bellator 197.
The card airs live on Paramount Network from the Family Arena in St. Charles, Missouri, with Michael Chandler vs. Brandon Girtz serving as the headliner.
McKee isn’t the only member of the fight card that has deep roots in MMA, as “Baby Slice” Kevin Ferguson Jr. will also be in action. McKee is the son of Antonio McKee, who had a long career in the sport.
“Having a dad as a fighter, it wasn’t fun,” McKee said. “I had a mouth on me. I’m not scared of anything. People wanted to test me and sure enough, the biggest kid in the school got knocked out because he swung at AJ.”
The elder McKee comprised a 29-6-2 record that includes fights with Shannon Ritch, Toby Imada, Heath Sims, Karo Parisyan, Mike Dolce, Carlos Prater, Jacob Volkmann in the UFC and Shinya Aoki. His son is 10-0, earning all 10 of his victories since 2015 and inside the Bellator cage.
“It gets kind of painful having my dad as my coach,” he said. “He knows me. He is always going to push me as hard as I can possibly go. Some people think he’s easier on me, but I think he’s harder. He doesn’t coach one way, it’s adding to it. That’s the great thing about my dad.
“The second we step in the gym it’s coaching. The second we step out, it’s big kid and wanna-be grown man. We are always playing. Being around him, it’s a one-of-a-kind thing.”
McKee submitted Brian Moore this past November in the third round, adding to recent wins over Blair Tugman and Dominic Mazzotta. Lawrence, though, will be his toughest test to date, as he is a former UFC fighter and is 11-4.