Former Bellator featherweight champion A.J. McKee, ranked sixth in the organization’s lightweight division, has confirmed information that he could replace the disqualified Usman Nurmagomedov in the final Bellator lightweight grand prix matchup.
“I want to compete in this tournament,” the American fighter stated. “This is no ordinary world title. It’s got eight names on it, including mine, and anybody who wants that belt has to go through me. Obviously, Usman is out and I want to be in this tournament. The grand prix belt is what I need.”
Earlier, the second finalist of the event, Russian Alexander Shabliy, who defeated former Bellator champion Patricky Freire by unanimous decision in the semifinal match, reported about the possibility of this replacement.
A.J. McKee, the August 2021 Bellator welterweight grand prix winner, was announced as one of the participants in the lightweight grand prix, but was forced to withdraw from the contest due to a staph infection. This past weekend, the 28-year-old American earned his third straight victory with a unanimous decision win over fifth-ranked Sidney Outlaw in the division.
A week ago, the head of the California State Athletic Commission, Andy Foster, announced that Russian Usman Nurmagomedov, who holds the Bellator lightweight title, failed a doping test and was disqualified for six months, and his fight with Brent Primus, headlining Bellator 300 in San Diego on October 7, was ruled a no contest.