Sherdog Prospect Watch: Mitchell McKee

Mitchell McKee has his eyes on the Legacy Fighting Alliance bantamweight title and eventually prime real estate in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

The undefeated Kill Cliff Fight Club prospect will carry a perfect 5-0 record into his showdown with Devante Sewell in the LFA 174 co-main event on Friday at the Mystic Lake Casino in Prior Lake, Minnesota. McKee first made headlines as a decorated amateur wrestler at the University of Minnesota, where he was a four-time NCAA qualifier, compiled 91 career victories and earned All-America honors as a junior in 2019. The 26-year-old turned toward mixed martial arts after a phone call from fellow Minnesota alum Logan Storley.

“I got done with the Olympic Trials [in 2021] and didn’t know what I was going to do—either keep wrestling or get a job,” McKee told Overtime Heroics. “He called me up like a week or two later and asked me if I wanted to check out [Kill Cliff Fight Club] and MMA in general. I went down for probably two weeks and checked it out and loved it, and within a month and a half, I was moved down.”

McKee made his professional debut under the LFA banner on Dec. 10, 2021, put away Frank Posko with second-round punches and went about establishing himself as an immediate person of interest at 135 pounds. A snappy 122-second stoppage of Jalen Jackson followed four months later and led to a one-off appearance in Bellator MMA, where he tore through Tony Ortega with punches in less than a round and a half at Bellator 284. McKee returned to the Legacy Fighting Alliance in January 2023 and picked up where he left off by discarding Ira Lukowsky with punches in the second round of their LFA 150 pairing.

To the surprise of no one in the know, matchmakers decided to up the ante with McKee’s next assignment—a high-stakes clash opposite the once-beaten Sean McPadden in the LFA 168 headliner on Sept. 22. He passed his most significant test to date with a unanimous decision over McPadden, drawing 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 scores from the cageside judges. McKee floored the McCune’s Martial Arts rep with a clean left hook, pieced together punishing power punching combinations and leaned into his dirty boxing across the 15-minute encounter. UFC Fight Pass analyst and former Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez compared McKee favorably to one of the world-class trainers charged with harnessing his skills and overseeing his development: “He looked like a young Robbie Lawler out there, man.”

The victory was made even sweeter by the fact that it took place in front of a hometown crowd in Minnesota, just an hour’s drive from where he graduated high school.

“It feels amazing to be back in front of my family and my friends and everybody who’s supported me over the years, through my wrestling career and now into fighting,” said McKee, who pointed to his wife and daughter as his motivation. “I step in here to feed them, support them and provide for them. I’m going to give it everything I’ve got.”

The idea of one day competing in the UFC becomes less of a dream and more of a reality each time McKee gets his hand raised. An opportunity at the current LFA bantamweight champion could be on the horizon first, provided he can get past the well-traveled Sewell and kick off his 2024 campaign on the right note.

“Personally, I feel like I’m ready for the UFC,” McKee said, “but if I don’t get that call… John Sweeney, I know you’ve got that belt, and I want it. I don’t care when it is. It’s up to you. I’ll be ready.”

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Renan Ferreira