Bellator 301: Homegrown star AJ McKee 'sad' to see potential end of MMA promotion

AJ McKee says he would be "sad" to see the end of Bellator as the MMA promotion's future hangs in the balance.

Bellator 301 could be the last show, with owners Viacom in talks to sell to rival promotion the Professional Fighters League.

McKee, 28, has fought his entire 22-fight career in Bellator.

"This is my home. To see it go away, it's sad," McKee said after his win over Sidney Outlaw.

"Everything I've been built off and everything I know has been through Bellator. This is my home.

"Everybody here, the whole organisation, the staff, everybody's just very loved," he added.

"Everyone caters to what needs to be done. To see that whole family-orientated scenario go away, I'm a little bummed.

"But you keep one foot in front of the other and keep walking. This journey is not going to stop. It's just going to continue to go and go. I wish everybody the best at Bellator."

McKee rose through Bellator as a prospect, making his pro debut with the company before sensationally dethroning all-time great Patricio 'Pitbull' Freire to win the featherweight title in 2021.

Like many fighters at Bellator McKee is under contract, and should the company be sold to PFL they will have the chance to fight for that MMA promotion.

Several Bellator employees and fighters alluded to Bellator 301 in Chicago being the last show, but featherweight champion Cris Cyborg suggested on social media the brand could continue.

"I can confirm the story of Bellator has not ended and will continue. When I make my return to MMA it will be to face Leah McCourt in Belfast, Ireland in 2024," she posted on X.

There have been suggestions PFL could continue the Bellator for a period before absorbing their fighters and brand completely.

There has been no official announcement and Bellator CEO Scott Coker did not appear at the post-fight news conference to answer questions.

Bellator has been the number two promotion to the UFC for much of its tenure, with its first fight night taking place in 2009.

The USA-based promotion houses some excellent fighters including middleweight champion Johnny Eblen, bantamweight champion Patchy Mix, lightweight Usman Nurmagomedov, previously unbeaten Yaroslav Amosov as well as Cyborg and McKee.

A host of British and Irish fighters are also signed to the promotion including McCourt, James Gallagher, Fabian Edwards and Linton Vassell.

Nurmagomedov's recent six-month doping ban has highlighted the uncertainty surrounding Bellator's future as the company is still yet to comment on his status as champion, despite the Russian's suspension emerging a week ago.