Bellator 277 results: Patricio Pitbull now three-time champ after handing A.J. McKee’s first loss


Patricio Pitbull is now a three-time Bellator featherweight champion after avenging his loss to A.J. McKee in the headliner of Bellator 277.

Pitbull took home a unanimous decision with scores of 49-46, 48-47 and 48-47. McKee was visibly shocked by the decision after five rounds of a chess-match with the multi-time champ, whose first two featherweight titles came in rematches.

“In [our first fight], I came in peace,” Pitbull said afterward. Pitbull said that he had come to war today and brought the belt home .”

Unlike the first fight, McKee and Pitbull did not get off to explosive start. Other than a side kick out of the gate, McKee wasn’t eager to give up his marked height and reach advantage. When Freire exploded in with combinations, he circled away and continued to snipe from the outside. This approach did not please the audience of SAP Center San Jose, Calif.

Pitbull became impatient during the second round, even though McKee couldn’t change his levels. Pitbull was able to grab kicks and use one of them to knock McKee to the ground. McKee, eager to grab one back, lunged with an elbow and almost caught a concussive right-hand. He was prompted to return to kicks.

The 3rd round saw Pitbull do his best as McKee was on offense. This allowed Pitbull to play the countering strategy he has mastered throughout the years. McKee was visibly shocked by a right hand and was forced to take a shot. Pitbull leapt on the guillotine choke and stunned McKee for several seconds before escaping.

McKee returned to basics in round four and performed his best work. He outdoed Pitbull in exchanges. In the fifth round, Pitbull appeared to let his foot off the gas in a round that produced few meaningful attacks. The guillotine choke clearly robbed Pitbull of his speed and power, and McKee managed to finish takedowns in the beginning and end of the round.

But ultimately, judges saw Pitbull’s work to be more significant and put him back in the win column after his first meeting with McKee ended in a first-round blowout.

“He’s a tough guy,” said Freire of McKee, who suffers his first loss in 19 pro outings. He’s an excellent opponent. It was a hard fight to me, but I come to put my strategy [on].”

McKee joins Pat Curran and Daniel Straus as opponents who’ve fallen short against Pitbull in featherweight title rematches.

Unfortunate end for Bellator light-heavy grand prix

Vadim Nemkov remains the light heavyweight champion despite a shift of momentum that had Corey Anderson in control by the third round of their meeting in the finale of the light heavyweight grand prix.

An inadvertent headbutt by Anderson caused a severe gash to Nemkov’s forehead and forced the cageside physician to cancel the fight. Officials were forced to call the bout a no contest because the cut happened before the final round. This resulted in an unhappy end to the main event.

Pico pounds out tough Edwards

Aaron Pico consistently punished Adli Edwards, a short-notice replacement before one of his signature body shots set off the final act.

The referee stepped in to save Edwards just 55 seconds into the third and final round, an accomplishment in and of itself for the tough fighter after taking a half-dozen or so bullwhips to his liver area and more than double that to the head. Pico was taking quick takedowns while his opponent tried to move on. It was then on to the ground and pound and Edwards got elbows in his head. By the end of the second frame, his face was a map of welts.

Pico is now on a six-fight winning streak after a pair of losses deflated his sails as one of Bellator’s most heavily-hyped up-and-comers. Originally scheduled to face Jeremy Kennedy, he has finished five of six opponents and may be due for another ranked opponent.

Vassell pulls off crazy comeback

Linton Vassel was at the edge of defeat following a left hook by Tim Johnson. After being dealt ground and pound his heavyweight goals seemed impossible. Johnson was initially able to resist Johnson’s wrestling. But when Johnson got up, he was still sore from the many shots he had taken.

Johnson bull rushed Vassell, a former light heavyweight Brit. He did so by inflicting a cut to his forehead which may have allowed Vassell enough time to get his head clear and move back. Once he managed to get on top, Vassell was brutal with elbows (at least one of which appeared to land illegally to the back of the head) and punches until the referee called off the fight at the 4:21 mark of the opening frame. Vassell won the fight in a chaotic and close-fought victory. He’s also now the winner of his previous four. Johnson has now dropped three straight.

Full Bellator 277 results:

Patricio Freire def. A.J. McKee via unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47)

Corey Anderson vs. Vadim Nemkov is declared a no-contest (accidental headbutt) – Round 3

Aaron Pico def. Adli Edwards via TKO (strikes) – Round 3, 0:55

Linton Vassell def. Timothy Johnson via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 4:21

Tyson Miller def. Rhalan Gracie via TKO (doctor’s stoppage) – Round 1, 5:00

Tyrell Fortune def. Rakim Cleveland via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 1:38

Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov def. Rafael Carvalho via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 4:04

Bobby Seronio III def. Calob Ramirez via KO (punches) – Round 2, 2:14

Gaston Bolanos def. Daniel Carey via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 4:59

Kyle Crutchmer def. Michael Lombardo via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)

Edwin De Los Santos def. Alberto Mendez via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Rogelio Luna def. Socrates Hernandez via TKO (strikes) – Round 3, 4:48

Laird Anderson def. JT Donaldson via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 2:44

Theo Haig def. Alan Benson via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 2:08