Former BAMMA featherweight champ Daniel Crawford meets unbeaten A.J. McKee at Bellator 212 on Dec. 14 (Poster Credit: Bellator MMA)
Bellator 212 features a plethora of talent, from the main event, a rematch between lightweight champ Brent Primus (8-0) and Michael Chandler (18-4), co-main between former UFC heavyweight champ Frank Mir (18-12) and Javy Ayala (10-7) as well as a top women’s flyweight booking between former title challenger Alejandra Lara (7-2) and Team Nogueira’s Juliana Velasquez (7-0). A late addition to the card has fans buzzing this week as top prospect A.J. McKee (12-0) is set to face former BAMMA featherweight champ Daniel Crawford (10-2) in a contest that could very well propel the winner to the top of the division’s rankings.
Crawford joined the American promotion after a two fight surge in BAMMA in 2017 that saw him finish both Ronnie Mann (25-10-1) and France’s Damien Lapilus (17-11-1, 1 NC) en route to the featherweight title. Crawford had the opportunity to debut with Bellator at home in London against SBG Ireland submission specialist Pedro Carvalho (9-3) in May. It marked an end to a four fight win streak, but for Crawford it proved to be a learning experience.
“For me it as just another fight,” said Crawford speaking with Fight Night picks’ Craig Allen on Wednesday. “And for him it was the fight of his life.”
Training differently, taking advantage of hard workouts in the gym and optimum performance on the days in between have helped to shape Crawford’s camp.
The fight between Crawford and McKee was announced by Bellator on Dec. 3, which caught fans by surprise given the past performances of both men. For Crawford, it’s been a full five-week camp knowing McKee was at the end of the line.
In such an evenly matched contest between strikers known for their stand-up game and finishing abilities, Crawford believes he can push McKee in order to get the win.
“Mix it up, keep him guessing.” said Crawford. “Wear him down, I think he slows down in the second round but you know he could prove me wrong there.”
“Just mix it up, test all of his skills.”
As for his training, Crawford’s spent the bulk of camp locally working with local fighters.
“My main sparring partner I would say right now is, Kingsley Crawford, there’s no relation,” said Daniel. “But he fights for Cage Warriors, he’s 3-0.”
Crawford faces a tough test as he nears his second nod in the Bellator cage. His opponent McKee’s Team Bodyshop includes such training partners as Aaron Pico (4-1), Kevin “Baby Slice” Ferguson Jr. (3-2) and Joey Davis (4-0) all under 170 lbs. With a win on Dec. 14, Crawford will take all comers.
“Anyone that’s put in front of me, I’m just gonna say yeah”
For the full interview with Daniel Crawford, as well as a conversation with A.J. McKee ahead of his last fight against John “Macapa” Teixeira, can be found on the Fight Night Picks YouTube channel!