A.J. McKee (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Bellator 187: McKee vs. Moore Preview and Predictions

For the second of six straight weeks featuring Bellator MMA events, the company heads to the 3Arena in Dublin, Ireland, for Bellator 187.

This isn’t exactly a high-profile Bellator card, but it does showcase a great fighter in the main event. A.J. McKee Jr. looks to continue his unbeaten run in Bellator and become the next top contender in the featherweight division. He takes on Brian Moore, who is no stranger to facing the top fighters of Bellator’s featherweight division.

McKee has been on a march toward the top of the featherweight division. He has won his first nine pro fights, all of which have taken place under the Bellator banner. McKee has looked seemingly unbeatable in that run while showcasing a well-rounded skill set that is sure to make him a tough out for any fighter.


Moore’s promotional debut was made in Ireland at Bellator 169 against former featherweight title challenger Daniel Weichel. Weichel won the fight by first-round submission. He has since rebounded with a technical knockout of Michal Hořejší at Bellator 177. The SBG Ireland fighter is a BAMMA and Cage Warriors veteran as well.

The card will head to the women’s featherweight division, where Sinead Kavanagh takes on Maria Casanova. After winning her promotional debut, Kavanagh has suffered through a two-fight skid. Her most recent loss came against Arlene Blencowe at Bellator 182. Casanova finds herself also riding a two-fight losing streak and a 1-4 record over her last five fights.

The main card also includes a catchweight showdown between Kevin “Baby Slice” Ferguson Jr. and Fred Freeman, as well as a puzzling booking choice that brings sub-.500 fighter Sergio de Jesus Santos to American television opposite Paul Redmond.

The Bellator 187 main card airs at 9 p.m. ET on Spike TV.

A.J. McKee Jr. snags headlining duties at Bellator 187, but he fights Brian Moore, a 10-5 fighter who is 1-1 over his last two outings and 3-3 over his last six. Is this bound to be another one-sided drubbing for McKee?

Yeah. This fight is looking like it’s set up to favor McKee. He comes in on a hot streak and is perhaps the brightest of Bellator’s future prospects. McKee has looked like a world beater since entering the Bellator cage for the first time in 2015. This fight seems similar to how Bellator has handled Michael Page — the organization gives these guys opponents that will only help to make them look good.

McKee is obviously the more talented fighter. All around, whether it be grappling or striking, McKee has the edge. He will dictate terms in this fight. He will initiate each dance. Yet, he can’t get overconfident, as we have seen with some of Bellator’s other prospects. Easy fights don’t necessarily mean easy wins. Anything can happen, as the cliched saying goes.

Even McKee can be knocked out or submitted, so he needs to maintain a level head in this fight. He can’t overcommit on any punches or takedown attempts. He’ll have to stay calm and look for openings. If he can maintain his composure and focus, then it will be the easy outcome we all know is available to him.

Sinead Kavanagh, who has lost her last two fights, also claims a main-card spot against a questionable opponent. Her foe is Maria Casanova, who is just 2-5-1 overall. Can Kavanagh get back on track against what seems like a sacrificial lamb of an opponent?

This is another case of a setup fight for Bellator. Kavanagh hasn’t been exactly what the promotion thought she could be. The women’s 145-pound division is sorely lacking in names and Kavanagh still can be the knockout punch the division needs.

This fight is there to help Kavanagh get back on track. It gives her an easy opponent to beat on Irish soil in her backyard. The amount of confidence she will gain with a victory is absurdly high, and it will assist her along the path of building up to take on the top fighters in the division.

Easy fight. Easy win for Kavanagh.

Bellator 187, weakest Bellator card of the year?

You can definitely say that.

McKee is a top fighter for Bellator, but the rest of this bunch is pretty underwhelming compared to previous fight cards. It seems like Bellator is stretching its roster pretty thin — this will be the second card of six straight weekends of events. This is one of Bellator’s international cards, too. These shows aren’t typically stacked with high-profile match-ups, but with prospects and top fighters from whatever country or region hosts the card. It basically becomes a glorified regional show, just with the Bellator name and maybe one or two of the promotion’s top fighters to help create some buzz.

This could turn out to be the best card of the year, but on paper it certainly looks thin.

Which fight is the sleeper match-up on this card?

Andre Goncalves and Decky Dalton.

Goncalves was originally slated to face Brian Moore, but Moore was moved to the headliner instead. Goncalves has two knockout victories and he should be a fun fighter to watch.

Dalton has fought three times for BAMMA and makes for an interesting veteran presence for Bellator’s trips to Europe. He could become a mainstay for the organization if he can get a finish in this fight.

Fight Picks

Fight Pick
Main Card (Spike TV, 9 p.m. ET)
FW: A.J. McKee Jr. vs. Brian Moore McKee
Catchweight (165 pounds): Kevin “Baby Slice” Ferguson Jr. vs. Fred Freeman Freeman
Women’s FW: Sinead Kavanagh vs. Maria Casanova Kavanagh
Catchweight (161 pounds): Paul Redmond vs. Sergio de Jesus Santos Redmond
Preliminary Card
MW: Charlie Ward vs. John Redmond Ward
FW: Decky Dalton vs. Andre Goncalves Goncalves