Bellator 277 results: Patricio Pitbull is now a three-time champion after handing first loss to AJ McKee

Patricio Pitbull is now a three-time Bellator featherweight champion after avenging his loss to AJ McKee in the Bellator 277 headliner.

Pitbull won a unanimous decision with scores of 49-46, 48-47, and 48-47. McKee was visibly shocked by the decision after five rounds of a chess match with the multiple-time champion, whose first two featherweight titles came in contrast.

“In [our first fight], I have come in peace,” Pitbull said afterwards. “Today I have come for the war and I bring home the belt.”

Unlike the first fight, McKee and Pitbull didn’t get off to an explosive start. Other than a side kick out of the gate, McKee wasn’t eager to let go of his marked height and gain the advantage. When Freire exploded with combinations, he moved away and continued shooting from the outside. Audiences at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., weren’t thrilled with this approach.

When McKee couldn’t level up on Pitbull, he got more impatient in round two. This allowed Pitbull to pull off kicks, using one to drop the champ to the mat. Eager to get one back, McKee threw himself in with a knee and nearly grabbed a concussive right hand, prompting him to return to kicking.

Round three produced Pitbull’s best work as McKee played offensively and allowed him the counterplay he’s mastered over the years. A right hand visibly knocked McKee out and forced a shot. Pitbull jumped on a guillotine choke, another signature move, and had the American for a tense few moments before a breakout.

McKee got back to basics in the fourth and did his best work, passing Pitbull on the feet in the rallies. In round five, Pitbull seemed to drop his foot in a round that produced few significant attacks. The guillotine choke clearly robbed Pitbull of his speed and power, and McKee managed to complete takedowns early and late in the round.

But ultimately, the judges saw Pitbull’s work as more important and put him back in the win column after his first encounter with McKee ended in a first-round blowout.

“He’s a badass,” Freire said of McKee, who suffered his first loss in 19 professional outings. “He’s a great opponent. It was a tough fight for me, but I’m coming to put my strategy [on].”

McKee joins Pat Curran and Daniel Straus as opponents who failed Pitbull in featherweight title rematches.

Unhappy ending for Bellator light heavyweight grand prix

Vadim Nemkov remains the light heavyweight champion despite a change in momentum that allowed Corey Anderson to control the third round of their encounter in the light heavyweight grand prix final.

An accidental headbutt from Anderson opened a huge gash on Nemkov’s forehead and forced the cage doctor to call off the fight. Because the cut occurred before the end of the third round, officials were forced to declare the fight a no contest, bringing an unsatisfying end to the co-main event.

Pico bangs Edwards hard

Aaron Pico repeatedly punished short-notice substitute Adli Edwards before one of his trademark body shots triggered the end.

The referee stepped in to save Edwards just 55 seconds into the third and final round, a feat in itself for the tough fighter after taking half a dozen lashes to the liver area and more than double to the head. When Pico wasn’t landing to the body, he was making easy takedowns as his opponent moved to counter. Then he was on the floor and pounding, and elbows slammed into Edwards head. By the end of the second frame, her face was a map of welts.

Pico is now on a six-fight winning streak after a pair of losses stripped his sails as one of Bellator’s most high-profile newcomers. Originally slated to face Jeremy Kennedy, he has finished five of six opponents and may be due for another ranked opponent.

Vassell pulls off a crazy comeback

Linton Vassell was on the verge of defeat after taking a short left hook from slugger Tim Johnson, and after being on the ground and pound reception, his heavyweight dreams seemed to hit a brick wall. Johnson was initially able to withstand his struggle, and when he got back to his feet, he returned to the canvas, still dazed from taking so many beatings.

Johnson shoved the former British light heavyweight and in the process ended up opening a cut on his forehead which may have given Vassell time to clear his head and reverse his stance. Once he got to the top, Vassell was brutal with elbows (at least one of which seemed to land illegally on the back of his head) and punches until the referee called off the fight at 4:21 of the first frame. It was a chaotic, behind-the-scenes victory for Vassell, who has now won his last four games. Johnson has now lost three straight.

Full Bellator 277 results:

Patricio Freire defeated. AJ McKee via unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47)

Corey Anderson vs. Vadim Nemkov is declared a no contest (accidental head kick) – Round 3

Aaron Pico beats. Adli Edwards via TKO (strikes) – Round 3, 0:55

Linton Vassell beats. Timothy Johnson via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 4:21

Tyson Miller beats. Rhalan Gracie via TKO (doctor stoppage) – Round 1, 5:00

Tyrell Fortune defeats. Rakim Cleveland via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 1:38

Dovletdjan Yagshimuradov defeated. Rafael Carvalho via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 4:04

Bobby Seronio III defeated. Calob Ramirez via KO (punches) – Round 2, 2:14

Gaston Bolanos defeated. Daniel Carey via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 4:59

Kyle Crutchmer defeats. Michael Lombardo via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)

Edwin De Los Santos defeated. Alberto Mendez via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Rogelio Luna defeats. Socrates Hernandez via TKO (strikes) – Round 3, 4:48

Laird Anderson beats. JT Donaldson via submission (rear naked choke) – Round 1, 2:44

Theo Haig defeated. Alan Benson via submission (rear naked choke) – Round 1, 2:08