When a recent press release for the upcoming MFC 30 event in June touted Drew Fickett and Hermes Franca facing off in the evening’s main event for the promotion’s lightweight title, one person was more surprised than most, titleholder Antonio McKee.
When MMAWeekly.com initially contacted McKee regarding the release and his apparent relinquishing of the title, he had no idea he had been relieved of his belt.
After allowing some time for McKee to check into the matter and speak with MFC owner Mark Pavelich, he was asked the current state of the situation.
“I spoke to Mark Pavelich (Friday) morning and discussed with him that I am still the MFC lightweight champion as I understood. He discussed with me that Drew Fickett and Hermes Franca were fighting for the title,” said McKee. “That’s what it is.
“As a promoter, I guess you can make that decision, but as a champion and as a fighter, I feel that I haven’t been beat; therefore, I don’t feel like those guys are legit.”
MMAWeekly.com has confirmed with MFC’s media and fighter relations director Scott Zerr that McKee’s management had agreed in meetings with Pavelich to relinquish McKee’s claim to the title.
McKee responded, “I haven’t spoken to my management yet about that.
“I don’t know how my managers would speak on behalf of me without me being notified. It definitely sounds like a line of communication is in error there, because
despite what people are saying or what I’m hearing, by no means would I ever walk away from my title.”
McKee was scheduled to defend his title against Fickett in February, but an injury forced him out of the bout.
It is perhaps with the uncertainty surrounding the injury that the decision was made by the MFC to have Fickett and Franca fight for the title in June, but according to McKee, he’s on his way to recover and would be ready to fight in the very near future.
“I just had a tear in my minescus, and I put off the surgery for a while, but now it’s done. I’m good, I’m walking around, I’m going to therapy and rehabilitating,” said McKee.
“I’ve refused all pain medication. I don’t believe in taking medicine. I’m gutting it out and doing therapy with the pain. The swelling is going down and I’m massaging it regularly and icing it. In another week, I’ll be rolling again and come June, I’ll be ready to fight, no matter who it is.”
McKee feels regardless of who wins between Fickett and Franca, he still owns the belt, and the winner shouldn’t consider themselves the titleholder until they face him.
“Unless you beat me, it’s the only way you’re going to get my title,” he stated. “Now, if you need help from a promoter or a matchmaker to give you a belt, then you truly know that you’re not the champion.
“I don’t know how you call yourself a champion if you don’t beat the champion. If the fans don’t want to see that, then I respect that, but at the end of the day you can’t take away the fact that I am a champion.”
McKee currently has one fight remaining on his MFC contract, and he says he would love an opportunity to face the winner of Fickett vs. Franca to crown a true undisputed champion, and then assess his options from there.
“I plan on fulfilling that contract, getting the title back,” he said. “At that point, if me and Mark don’t come to some kind of terms of agreement, then I’ll probably retire and move forward or find another organization.
“But again, I’m a champion. I’m not taking fights just to fight; I’m fighting to show I’m the best in the world.”
Regardless of the uncertainty of his situation, McKee knows he has the fans behind him, and with that knowledge he’ll continue to persevere against any obstacles placed in his way.
“I just want to tell everyone thanks for supporting me,” he concluded. “A lot of people responded to the title being put up. I was really happy to see so many fans commenting, emailing, and texting me.
“I’m going to continue to do what I do best; and that’s win.”