Following an exit from active competition in 2014, lightweight Antonio McKee has focused on training fighters, including his son, AJ McKee, but the desire to fight never really went away.
Staying active, McKee has been ready to make a return to fighting, and will do so this month, returning to action just under five years from the last time he stepped into the cage as an active competitor.
“I’ve never missed a beat,” McKee told MMAWeekly.com. “I’d been training even when I wasn’t fighting for the last five or six straight (years). (The event) is in LA, my son’s in the (featherweight) tournament, he’s undefeated, it’s something he’s always asked about, and now here it is – it’s happening.”
When it comes to seeing his son’s career blossom to a 14-0 start and now to have an opportunity to fight on the same card as him, McKee couldn’t feel more intensely positive about it.
“It’s a blessing to be able to walk into the cage at almost 50 years and to be able to perform at this level with my son, and with him going for the million dollar tournament, there is no words that you can express for that,” said McKee. “You can only feel that with an emotion.
“There is no word that has the power and emotion of that. I don’t have a word for it, but it’s something you have to feel to understand.”
On Saturday in Irvine, California, McKee (29-6-2) will look to return to fighting with a win when he faces William Sriyapai (13-8) in a 65-pound bout at Bellator 228.
“I’m going to do what I do and compete,” McKee said. “I’m the best at what I do still to this day. What’s (Sriyapai) going to do; stop me from taking him down? He could. There’s a possibility he could attack me, he could hit me, he could kick me and drop me, but then what? Is he going to get on top of me and submit me? No. The fight is more to my favor.
“I just to make it through with no injuries – just go in there and do what I do best – don’t try to reinvent the wheel.”
For McKee, September 28 could be the start at a run at his original weight. As long as he stays healthy, he doesn’t see any reason why he could make waves against fighters half his age.
“I’d actually like to go in there and challenge myself,” said McKee. “This isn’t about anybody else, this is about me. At 155 pounds, I don’t see anybody that’s really able to dominate me. I’ve got a fighter’s long chance of making a run for the title.
“I’ve been taking care of myself my whole life. I feel amazing.”