In just his second Bellator fight, Carlyle (14-3 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) will welcome former featherweight champion McKee to the lightweight division at Bellator 286, which takes place Oct. 1 at Long Beach Arena in Long Beach, Calif.
McKee (18-1 MMA, 18-1 BMMA) lost his 145-pound title in a razor-close decision loss to rival Patricio Freire, and now their series is tied 1-1. McKee, who finished Freire in less than two minutes in their first fight, expected a rubber match next. But instead, Freire will defend his title against Adam Borics on the same night McKee faces Carlyle.
“I hope he’s thinking of other things,” Carlyle told MMA Junkie Radio. “I hope he doesn’t show up on fight night. I hope he’s confused. I hope everything that could go wrong goes wrong for him because I’m coming for that win, and I know I’m going to be fully prepared there. So, it is unfortunate that he’s not having the trilogy bout with ‘Pitbull,’ but I got blessed with this opportunity. I don’t think I was supposed to have this fight, but here we are – so let’s make it happen.
“I definitely think A.J. won the fourth and fifth rounds (against Freire), which is cool because I think for him that was his first time fighting in the championship rounds,” Carlyle said. “So kudos for him. I have to rewatch it, but it was a close fight, and who knows. You can’t trust the judging in MMA.”
Carlyle is someone who’s almost never had to rely on the judges. In 14 professional wins, Carlyle has only gone the distance once in 2019 and has finished his past five opponents.
“I’m blessed,” Carlyle said. “I have knockout ability in every limb in my body, I have a high-level submission game, and not to toot my own horn, but I’ll never quit. I have a heart of a champion tenfold, heart of a tiger 1,000-fold.”