Ray “All Business” Wood got off to a quick start in the co-main event of Friday night’s Bellator 166 mixed martial arts card at the WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Oklahoma.
But undefeated prospect A.J. “The Mercenary” McKee of Long Beach, California, used his grappling skills to control the final two rounds of the three-round featherweight (145-pound) bout and pull away to a unanimous decision victory in a fight broadcast nationally by Spike TV.
The three cageside judges had the 21-year-old McKee winning 29-27, 30-25 and 30-25 to improve his professional record to 6-0, all with Bellator.
McKee, the son of former Maximum Fighting Championships MMA champion Antonio McKee, had fought a total of a little more than 15 minutes in winning his first five fights but was required to go the full 15-minute distance to defeat Wood, the 27-year-old Bucksport High School graduate now living in Amarillo, Texas.
Wood used a flying knee to the head to stun McKee early in the first round and landed enough strikes and kicks to the body to win the round, according to Spike TV announcer Jimmie Smith.
But McKee, a former Gracie National Grappling Champion, took the fight to the mat to dominate the final two rounds, and while Wood was fairly effective on defense he was unable to mount any countering offense.
According to fight statistics, McKee landed 49 ground strikes during the last two rounds compared with none for Wood.
Wood, who had been training for an undercard fight on the Bellator 166 card, was a late replacement to face McKee in the co-main event after McKee’s original opponent, Emmanuel Sanchez, dropped out after suffering a training-camp injury.
Wood, the former New England Fights featherweight champion, is now 8-3 overall as a professional, 1-2 with Bellator MMA.