Rhys McKee earned the Cage Warriors welterweight title in brutal fashion at Cage Warriors 140: Belfast this weekend, with a stunning finish over Englishman Justin Burlinson. With a huge achievement wrapped around his waist, the Northern Irish star Rhys McKee eyes a UFC return for his next bout.
Cage Warriors 140: Belfast – Hometown Hero Captures Gold
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The Ballymena Brawler had a lot on the line at Cage Warriors 140. Not only did the striking standout have hometown pressure to deal with, but McKee needed this win. After facing such difficulties within the UFC, McKee needed to get his career back on track, and winning the Cage Warriors title was just what this still-promising fighter was determined to achieve.
The fight itself was an action-packed, high-stakes affair, with Sunderland’s Justin Burlinson pushing the Ballymena native to his limit. After two hard-fought rounds, McKee needed something drastic to turn the tide of the battle. He did just that. After tagging his opponent with a stiff left and reversing a spinning elbow from Burlinson, Mckee redirected his opponent to the cage to fire off a devastating right hook, left-hand combination to slump Burlinson.
An elated McKee took no time to hop the cage and celebrate with his countrymen, in what was his biggest achievement to date.
Return to UFC – Unfinished Business
Battered and bloody after his gruelling war with Justin Burlinson, McKee stated his desire to return to the UFC; despite being beaten back-to-back in his two-fight stint within the promotion. When questioned about the UFC, Rhys McKee stated:
‘Yeah talking about the UFC erm, listen I had a real roundabout road with the UFC. I done everything I needed to do. I stepped in when I needed to. I went and developed, I came back when I needed to. I don’t know, I’ve done two wins, I’ve got the strap, I wanted some soil. UFC bygones-be-bygones, your boy’s ready to come back. Let’s get it done, let’s get a deal done, erm London next month.’
The Northern Irish fighter continued his pledge:
‘I’m a UFC fighter and anyone that disagrees, look at that. Watch it back, have to kill me in there to get me out.’
Is McKee Ready to make his Comeback with the UFC?
Rhys McKee had a rough start in the UFC, with many claiming the Irishman was fed to the wolves early when they faced him with now-proven title contender, Khamzat Chimaev. The fight was a one-sided beat down, where the Chechen Wolf, ruthlessly dispatched his seemingly outmatched foe in round 1.
McKee’s run in the UFC would see him loss again to Alex Morono, resulting in a decision loss to the Texan.
Stepping down from the UFC was useful to McKee’s career. Not only was McKee able to hone his skills against slightly lower competition, but it allowed the lessons learnt from his stint in the UFC to fully develop. McKee was never able to prosper in the UFC, unlike Paddy Pimblett or Sean O’Malley. Given the thoroughly unenviable task of facing the company’s current boogeyman and potential future champion in his UFC debut. However, with the prestigious Cage Warriors welterweight title around his waist, there will be some expectations surrounding McKee’s next performance in the UFC; if granted the opportunity. Therefore, taking the route of the aforementioned up-and-coming superstars by being somewhat picky when choosing his first few opponents, could be the necessary route for McKee to find his footing within the promotion.