Q&A with Antonio McKee
McKee (24-3-2) will defend his Maximum Fighting Championship lightweight title Friday in Edmonton, Alberta, against
How good is McKee? For anyone other than the fighter himself, it's a difficult question to answer. (He humbly ranks himself as the best.) McKee said leading up to Friday's fight, which airs live on HDNet starting at 10 p.m. ET, that if fans are dissatisfied with his performance, he'll leave the sport for good.
In an interview with SI.com, McKee had a lot more to say about his career and his perception of MMA.
I did this in wrestling. I did this for five years, 164-0. Going undefeated is not strange for me; it's a normality for me. It's bad that these people aren't educated in the sport. They should realize that I dominate with supposedly just wrestling, that all I do is hold people and lay on them, which is funny because I never grab anyone -- they're always grabbing me if you study the tapes. I'm always punching to try to finish and hurt people. Every opponent needs stitches afterward; I walk out untouched. So I think boredom comes from the fact that I'm able to dominate and do what I do so well. People can't appreciate that.
I don't think it's about me anymore. I think it's about the organization now. We forgot who great fighters are. Unless they fight for the right organization, they're not recognized. Come on, you and I both know I'm top 10 at 155 pounds. I've never lost at 155. I haven't lost in over seven years. How could I not be rated as one of the top 10 fighters at 155? Just on my winning record alone.
This last fight, with
But you see,
You take a guy who's had six or seven fights and you put him up against a guy that had over 40 fights. The commission approves it, first of all. He goes out there and wins a boring decision -- I'm talking about
This is not an opinion. These are factual things I can legitimately put on the table. I just want an explanation for it. It's not about color. But we all know this is a white-based sport. I told an interviewer earlier today that it's kind of funny to me that
I look at where I fit in the sport. People always say, "How do you want to be remembered in this sport, Antonio?" I want to be remembered as a good man. Not as the greatest fighter, because I already know in my heart I'm one of the greatest fighters. Not as a guy who went out here and talked bad about people, but a guy that stood for truth, honesty and integrity. That's what I want to be remembered by.
I grew up in the ghetto where I was getting shot, kidnapped, stabbed. Every day was strive to survive. So I come to corporate America with this mentality that I'm going to do it all right. I'm not going to sell drugs. I'm not going to rob and steal. I'm not going to work a 9-5 for anyone, so I become self-employed. I produce quite a bit of revenue on the corporate world structure, become very knowledgeable. And then I realized the power of money.
But more powerful than money is politics. I'm not trying to point fingers. I'm just saying, Listen, fighters are out here putting on a show. There are billions and billions of dollars being generated from this sport. Please, athletic commissions, stand behind the guys that are making this money. Don't sit up and allow drugs to be so heavily concentrated in mixed martial arts. There's something wrong with this picture. Steroids. Pain killers. Growth hormones. Some of these guys growth hormone levels are so damn high. But you got to have money to afford growth hormones. So if you have a guy making $180,000 a fight, he can afford growth hormones versus a guy making $18,000 to fight. You see what I'm saying? We're always going to put the best in front? Absolutely not.
I think over time I've won the right people over and now I've got a bigger fan base than ever before because people are starting to educate themselves in the sport. It's not just about getting in the ring and playing Sock 'Em Robot. We want to see some style. We want to see some technique. Look at the Rampage and
I know you don't want your son out there fighting for nickels and dimes putting it all on the line getting your teeth knocked out, a porcelain jaw. You don't want that, so what do you teach? Teach him to go to school and things you're comfortable with. But he likes to fight. That's what he wants to do. So if that's the choice, wouldn't you want to make it as fair as possible, not just because he's your son but because it's better for everyone who decides they want to fight? That's where I'm at.
I've tried to go and touch every aspect of this sport I can to deliver the honest truth. Not everyone is going to agree with me. But I tell you what, you line all the fighters up, you put them in a room, even if they don't like me they'll say we feel that way but can't say it. I talk to them all! I would like to know at the end of the day I'm not in tax trouble, that I got a little retirement money set aside. I'd like to know if I got my jaw broken, that they're going to cover the medical on my jaw, and pay me a little money when I'm out. Hell, if you tell someone you're an MMA fighter, you can't get insurance coverage.
SI.com: If you never get that shot to say, "I fought the best and I beat the best," are you going to be all right with that?