John Macapa enters his first Bellator main event with a specific plan in mind Friday night.
Looking to rebound from decision losses to Daniel Weichel and Pat Curran, two of the best featherweights in the promotion roster, Macapa takes on rising prospect A.J. McKee in a three-round clash at Bellator 205 in Boise. McKee brings a perfect 11-0 record to the cage with all of those taking place under the Bellator banner.
The experienced Brazilian, who replaced Pat Curran against McKee, believes he’s at a different level, but feels that Bellator wants him to lose to the 23-year-old talent.
”They want to use me as a stepping stone because I’m coming off two losses,” Macapa told MMA Fighting, “But I’m tougher than anyone he’s ever fought, I’m a tougher match-up for him. I’ve lost to two of the best in the division. Not taking anything away from McKee, he has his merits, but I’m ready to fight him. I’ll go there and get the job done to frustrate his plans and Bellator’s plans.”
Out of action since Oct. 2017, Macapa was hoping to coming back earlier this year against another rising prospect. According to the Nova Uniao fighter, he was offered a fight with another featherweight sensation Aaron Pico — and agreed to it —, but got injured before the fight was even announced. Pico went on to beat Lee Morrison in a mere 70 seconds in May.
If victorious Friday night, Macapa will voice his desire to face Pico in the Bellator cage later this year. Pico, a 21-year-old featherweight phenom, is currently slated to meet Brazil’s Leandro Higo at Bellator 206 on Sept. 29.
”That’s exactly what I was thinking. You just read my mind,” Macapa said when asked if he wants to face Pico in order to become some type of “prospect killer” in Bellator. “I will do everything I can to come out victorious. I know I let them down by pulling out of the fight, but I’ll challenge him in there. I will say his name. I want one more fight this year.”
Macapa has to get past McKee before thinking about challenging Pico, though, and that’s the type of fight he was hoping for after a long layoff.
”I don’t want easy fights, I want to fight tough opponents like him, a young prospect in Bellator,” Macapa said. “They called me to replace Pat Curran, and I took it right away. I know this fight will be way better than the original.”
McKee is 11-0 with seven finishes in MMA, but Macapa, a one-time UFC veteran with a 21-3-2 record, feels ready for anything “Mercenary” brings to the table.
”I want to counter and frustrate him so he goes back to his wrestling, and I’m ready for that as well,” Macapa said. “My game will prevail in this fight. I can surprise him on the ground. We’ll see how the fight goes. I like long fights, I like to have to dig deep. I feel great when I’m in a tough fight, and I’m sure I will impose my game over his.”
He’s very explosive in the first round. When he gets tired or gets rocked, he goes back to his roots with his wrestling game. He has good takedowns, has a defensive jiu-jitsu and has some submissions as well, but nothing that threatens my ground game.”