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Bellator 286: AJ McKee punishes Spike Carlyle

LONG BEACH — It couldn’t be called a homecoming since A.J. McKee, 562 born and raised, has never really left Long Beach.

No, what happened Saturday night inside Long Beach Arena was a house party.

McKee weathered a furious early storm from Spike Carlyle en route to a punishing and dominant unanimous-decision victory in the Bellator 286 co-main event.

The judges scored it 29-26, 30-26, 30-27 for McKee, who was making his lightweight debut after moving up in weight upon losing the featherweight title in his only loss in April.

McKee, 27, didn’t just have the crowd on its feet from the moment he walked out to Long Beach anthem “Regulate” by Warren G and Nate Dogg. The Long Beach Poly grad had them in his hands, albeit when his 4-ounce gloves weren’t administering punishment on Carlyle.

Not receiving the memo was Carlyle (19-4), who bull-rushed McKee from their first steps with a flying knee and swinging wildly. McKee did his best to evade and trade, eventually ending up on his back but delivering nasty elbows from his back to bust open Carlyle.

The second round, with McKee able to catch his breath and start over, was all McKee. A right and a knee stunned Caarlyle, with McKee following those with a left. McKee later took him down and had him in a prolonged front facelock, taking the opportunity to twerk over his opponent to the fans’ delight.

In the third round, McKee appeared to have chances to sink in submissions on Carlyle, opting instead to continue to pummel and dice him up. The fight ended with McKee’s virtually unmarked and Carlyle’s a bloody mess.

Just 14 months after winning the featherweight belt and the $1 million Bellator Featherweight World Grand Prix, McKee can now take aim at the Bellator Lightweight World Grand Prix recently announced by CEO Scott Coker.

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