Former Bellator featherweight champion AJ McKee stepped into the Bellator cage as a lightweight for the first time on Saturday. Standing across the cage was Spike Carlyle, who missed weight for their bout, looking to derail the hype train even before its engine had a chance to start.
Carlyle came out on fire and the fight went from zero to 60 in just seconds. It proved to be a fan-friendly affair with both men having close-to-finishing exchanges before even the fight hit the 1-minute mark. The fight went to the canvas early on with Carlyle on top but McKee setting up submission attempts. The commentary team called it controlled chaos, but it was just pure chaos and the fans were loving it. A reversal with a minute and a half remaining forced the fight briefly to the feet but back to the canvas with McKee getting the back of Carlyle and went looking for the choke to end the round.
No finish was found and they went into the second round with the crowd on their feet.
The second round was much like the first, with quick action and no hesitation. But in the second, McKee was prepared and took control of the conversation in the round. For most of the round, McKee had control of Carlyle, searching for a submission. No finish was made in the second and they went into a third round.
Both men, clearly tired from the high-paced two rounds were slower to start but not by much. But that didn’t stop the men to be covered in blood by the end of the round and onto the judge’s scorecards.
In the end the judges awarded the win to McKee.
McKee was coming off a decision loss to Patricio Pitbull in their rematch, then promptly decided to leave the division and try for a run at another title.
Carlyle, a former UFC fighter, was riding a five-fight win streak and was looking for what would be the biggest win of his young career.