The third feature of the Fighter’s Profile series will focus on former BAMMA Lightweight champion and current Cage Warriors Welterweight Rhys ‘Skeletor’ McKee.
Rhys McKee is a Northern Irish fighter trained in Next Generation IMMA in Ballymena under the watchful eye of Rodney Moore. He is friendly with former UFC Lightweight contender ‘Stormin’ Norman Parke.
Rhys is currently signed to Cage Warriors which is considered Europe’s elite mixed martial arts organisation. He has competed in their Lightweight division.
Rhys competed in his first amateur fight in 2013 fighting for Scottish Fighting Challenge. He has since fought for Chaos FC in Derry/Londonderry, UXC Fight Night, Kumite MMA Fight Night, Akuma Fc and Battle Zone.
McKee most notably fought former UFC contestant and current Bellator fighter Richie Smullen very young in his career. McKee would win the fight via rear-naked choke.
The Lightweight went 5-3 in his amateur career, picking up valuable experience along the way.
In June 2015 McKee defeated Eoghan Drumgoole in what would be his final amateur fight. McKee was ready for a step-up to professional level.
A few months later in September of 2015, Rhys faced John Redmond at BAMMA 22: Duquesnoy v Loughnane in Dublin. He won his first professional fight by rear-naked choke in the very first round!
McKee continued his winning ways, picking up five wins on the bounce with BAMMA. The pick of these victories was over current Cage Warriors Lightweight champion Jai Herbert for the BAMMA British Lightweight title!
Rhys would step up to take on BAMMA unified Lightweight champion Tim Barnett in February 2017.
McKee would suffer the first loss of his professional career at the hands of Barnett at BAMMA 28: Parke v Redmond. His team-mate Norman Parke headlined the card later that night.
This defeat was followed up by a highly respectable draw against familiar foes Richie Smullen. The pair put on a contender for fight of the night! (Just watch it below and you’ll agree)
In his next bout Rhys picked up a victory over Kams Ekpo to take his record to 5-1-1 and would avenge the loss to Barnett. McKee finally secured the BAMMA Lightweight title in March 2018!
Holding the British Lightweight title and now Lightweight world title Rhys would defend his belt at BAMMA Fight Night London in June 2018.
McKee held the BAMMA Lightweight title until the promotions recent and unexpected closure. The organisation was one of the best promotions to showcase and provide a platform for UK and Irish talent.
BAMMA would go through uncertain times with the promotions future up in the air, fighters being snapped up by other leading promotions and others unsure when their next fight will be.
McKee was granted his release and was snapped up by Cage Warriors, Europe’s leading MMA promotion. The switch gave the hot-prospect a chance at continuing his progression and hopefully being signed by the UFC.
Making his highly anticipated debut in December 2018 on the huge Cage Warriors 100 card in London, Rhys would be welcomed by an experienced Jefferson George.
The Northern-Irishman made his mark by knocking out his opponent in the very first round. What a way to make your promotional debut!
Rhys got back into the Cage Warriors cage three months later, aiming to add to his first victory in December. Perry Goodwin was the man next on the hit-list.
In his second fight under the Cage Warriors banner, McKee excellently submitted Goodwin in the third round. The fighter proved his ability to take the fight to the ground and finish the contest.
Rhys recently announced that he would be moving up in weight to compete at Welterweight and will look to make a run at the Cage Warriors 170-pound gold.
Unfortunately Rhys suffered a hand injury in his last bout which would rule him out of action and halt his progress. With rehab and light sparring well-underway the Northern-Irish man has his eyes set on returning to action later this year.
With top contenders in Nicholas Dalby signing to the UFC after his epic and bizarre battle with Welterweight champion Ross Houston. I could see Rhys McKee gunning for a title shot imminently after a tune-up bout at Welterweight to get comfortable with the weight.
Whatever happens, McKee is one of the most exciting Welterweights in the world.
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