This Friday night, local hero and regional standout steps pretty far up the ladder to take on contender and all around talent AJ Mckee on the Bellator main card featured on Spike. I have fell out of love with writing but Mazzotta is a close friend of mine and someone who I have watched grow as a person and destroy as a fighter since his amateur days so I figured why not dust off the old laptop and put something together for you mostly ungrateful fucks. It's also noteworthy that Bellator has been pushing Mazzotta alot on their end and in some ways is making him one of the more hyped additions in recent memory.
Here’s what you need to know:
Time: Friday 9:00 PM
Opponent: Aj Mckee (7-0) Last fight
In a nutshell: McKee is a rough match up for anyone let alone a debutante but Mazzotta has been waltzing through anyone within 500 miles and 15 pounds of this great state. These type of match ups are eventually inevitable; the dead even kind. If you watch any random McKee performance you’ll note that he’s what you call “pretty fucking good” - “I don’t know much about this MMA stuff bro but that kid Dom is fighting looks pretty fucking good”.
“Dude, bro you remember that time he choked that kid down Cheswick at the Mason’s or whatever?”
“Dude, remember when he kicked that guy in the face and you yelled “In the faccccceeee” and you could here it on the video?”
“Dude, bro did you know Dom used to rap?”
I could seriously waste your time with these all day.
Here are some of the more obvious problems Aj Mckee poses:
- He’s taller and heavier - 5’10” and fights at 145 which is on the top end of the spectrum weight wise in Mazzotta’s career.
- He’s good at using his range. - This is mostly done with long kicks.
- He’s fast enough that he’s not easy to time. Tall guys have to be fast to wrangle the reach back in so the odds of countering become even less.
- He has prior Bellator experience - Some of his opposition was lackluster so this might be a stretch.
- He’s on a role. - Trust me, this matters.
- Technically he fights a weight class up- even though you guys are used to seeing Dom compete basically wherever and at whatever weight, once you get out into the national talent pool weight matters. Especially in a grinding, wrestling heavy fight to the death.
If it sounds like a steep hill, you’re smarter than I’ve given you credit for. Sorry for doubting you it’s just that I have Facebook too and I read these posts and well.. Nevermind. Now, I am going to get relatively technical with this and I know most of you don’t love reading so if technical analysis isn’t your thing, you can check out now. But before you go, Dom should win this match up. Alright? Cool, I’ll see you guys in a few months. Maybe.
For the rest of you who like to think about these things on a more specific technical level here’s what I’ve noticed. At first glance (and maybe even second) McKee looks like a tough match up for our local stalwart. Get passed all the smooth technique and fast reflexes for a second and you’ll notice a guy who has used a couple physical attributes to his benefit but has some serious technical holes in his approach.
Here they are in no particular order:
Over Commitment - one of my favorites as a coach - He tends to over commit to every punch, kick, takedown and movement especially when coming forward. This means that his momentum is usually putting him in a place where he has to complete whatever action he is doing before he gets a chance to react. That includes defensive techniques or changing a strikes trajectory etc. Think of it as legally marrying the first person you’ve met on the internet ten minutes after meeting them in the standard designated public safe space, like the police station or the court house. You hop right into their daddy issues, poor self image and rampant drug use head first, while leaving yourself with zero outs. It’s kinda like that except for Mckee it could be over faster than the typical tinder love story.
He works off of a predictable rhythm - This is common with most people who are still learning the striking arts. A good trainer gets you on a rhythm for a few years to easily build in mechanical sequences and then eventually teaches you how and when to throw off that beat. Mckee is still in that predictable phase because he really hasn’t been forced to change it yet. The majority of strikers in MMA (aside from a few stand outs) would be considered rudimentary in the other striking based sports like boxing or kickboxing which means there are alot of answers to this problem, we just haven’t see it yet because the guys he has fought so far aren’t good enough.
Dive bombs from too far out - McKee’s range is great. It keeps his opponent outside their respective range while being shelled with relatively hard kicks during which he comfortably sits back and waits for new openings. Here’s the thing though, eventually he needs to come forward too and he often does it from the wrong distance. Seems small right? He has been hit with jump knees when diving in off of a takedown attempt that was too far out, multiple times already in his career. Over committing from too far out means that Dominic will have more time to see the shot open up and pick the best tool for the job. McKee also tends to dive for takedowns when in trouble and sometimes that can be literally the worst auto pilot move you can select. “oh shit, I’m in trouble let me dive head first at his legs from back here, what could go wrong?”
Real Talk: This one will not be easy but in my mostly biased opinion, Mazzotta -physical discrepancies aside- has a great opportunity to upset McKee here. McKee will take a few chances in an effort to create an opening and it will eventually lead to the end of the fight. My guess is that Dom wings him with a hard shot while he’s coming in, Mckee forces a takedown and ends up in a bad position on the ground with a very talented, very aggressive jiu jitsu black belt who has choked more than a few guys the fuck out. That's the technical term for the kids.
I could be wrong but we all know that I’m usually not.
Dominic is just another example of the level of athlete this area produces. I am proud and lucky to have worked with him in my career as a promoter and his moving onward and upward is one of my crowning achievements in combat sports.