Time for McKee to defend; Super-skilled wrestler can’t be shelved any longer

Seven years and four months. Flip the pages on a calendar – it will take a while – but it has been that long since Antonio McKee suffered a loss.

The reigning MFC lightweight champion is a consummate pro and an intellectual fighter, but also a title-holder currently wearing an undefendable belt. The one opportunity McKee had to put his championship on the line came at MFC 22 but his foe, Carlo Prater, came in overweight and the five-round bout was changed to a three-rounder. McKee still scooted away with a clear-cut decision but it was not what he nor MFC wanted out of the night.

So what lies ahead for the organization’s first 155-pound champ? Honestly speaking, there would appear to be only one showdown in the works for McKee. Because of his spectacular skills as a wrestler (which go hand-in-hand with a phenomenal cardio gas tank) McKee is incredibly difficult to match up.

Selection of his opponent is critical and McKee is not an easy target. In the fight for the title, the only time McKee was ever in the slightest amount of trouble came when Derrick Noble was able to land strikes from the outside, in particular a cracking blow near the end of Round 1. But in tight it was McKee’s world and a dominating conclusion ensued.

Match McKee against a striker and he’s going to put his wrestling to use, pretty well exclusively to grind out a verdict as evidenced by 18 of his 22 wins coming by way of decision. That rationale leads one to assume that a clash between McKee and fellow veteran Yves Edwards wouldn’t be a good mix. Edwards, who is coming off a first-round mowdown of Noble at MFC 24, might get one chance to flatten McKee with a strike before he’s scooped up, dropped on his back, and smothered. McKee isn’t going to risk getting clipped on the chin and will neutralize Edwards to the point a dreary, dull decision.

So as McKee pointed out while sitting ringside at MFC 25, about the only way to force him into an exciting fight is to put him against a slick submission fighter.

McKee won’t want to mess around on the mat, fearing he could get caught in a trap which would make him more inclined to keep the fight on the feet. McKee does have a couple of TKO victories to his credit and is definitely the kind of guy who pushed into a sticky situation would come out swinging. In an interesting turn, a more aggressive showing in the ring by McKee may well spark a fight-first-wrestle-second mentality in the combatants he trains, specifically former MFC light heavyweight champion Emanuel Newton.

If anyone currently in the MFC stable has a shot against McKee, it would seem to be newly signed Brazilian Luciano Azevedo. Not yet a brand-name product, Azevedo has the jiu-jitsu repertoire – 12 of 16 wins via submission including five tapouts under the pressure of his triangle choke – that would take away most of McKee’s rival ground game, forcing both fighters to settle the issue throwing punches, kicks, and knees. The fight could very well wind up on the ground but it’s unlikely that a dull stalemate would result since McKee doesn’t own the mat in this fight – it’s Azevedo’s world down there too.

A tilt with Azevedo is a likely occurrence though the MFC is looking at a few other options including a talent search to the Far East in exploration of mining more lightweight talent. Whatever way the matchup bounces, it’s long overdue that McKee defend his belt.

About William Smith

After watching the first Ultimate Fighting Championship I became instantly hooked. I've been a huge fan of the sport of MMA ever since. Haven't missed a UFC event & thanks to fight pass I've witnessed some of the all time greatest fighter & athletes the sport through Pride, Strikeforce, WEC, Glory, Pacrase, EliteXC.............. I resently joined MMA-paradise.com & will use this site to continue to bring the latest news from the world of MMA to all our loyal followers.