Rhys McKee is hoping to avenge the only defeat of his professional career at BAMMA 34, set to take place at the The SSE Arena, Wembley, London on 9 March.
The 22-year-old was fired up, while discussing his rematch against Tim Barnett at the The SSE Arena, and was adamant he would defeat the man who took away his perfect record.
McKee was stopped in the first round of their lightweight clash last year, losing the BAMMA RDX 155 pound title, but has an unshakable belief things will be different this time.
He said: “They call it fear of the unknown and it’s not the unknown anymore. I’m really excited for this rematch it’s a chance for redemption.
“I believe I am a fighter who should not be losing at this stage of my career and I’m looking to put that right against Tim.”
The Northern Irishman has re-watched his contest with Barnett from February 24, where he was stopped by a barrage of knees and punches against the fence with just seconds remaining in the opening round at BAMMA 28 in his home country.
Watching the fight has only further affirmed his belief that he will be victorious on March 9 and that illness was to blame for his sub-par showing. The fighter who trains with Next Generation Northern Ireland MMA added: “I have re-watched and what I took from it is, that wasn’t me in there.
“There wasn’t anything to take from it, because I just wasn’t myself in there, look I hope Tim’s watching because it’s going to be a completely different fight.”
Victory at the The SSE Arena would not only get McKee back on a winning streak but could launch ‘Skeletor’ into a world title fight. Mckee believes if he stops Barnett he could face Ryan Scope and compete for BAMMA’s major lightweight crown.
He said: “There’s been some talk that with a win Tim could get the next title shot, but he’s not winning, I am. So a big win in March lines me up for that title shot. I fully expect to be a champion in 2018.”
Despite his youth Mckee has been involved in mixed martial arts since he was 16, taking up fighting when trying to keep fit and stay in shape during the off-season of his first sporting love American Football.
He stated: “I soon realised this was more me, I enjoy the pressure of being in there in a one on one situation. This is now my means of income, I quit my job last year and this has been the best year of my life.
“I’m training all day, I’ve started doing some coaching sessions as well, it was February last year when I decided to go all in and I haven’t looked back.”
Despite doubling down in his commitment for one-on-one combat, 2017 proved the toughest year of McKee’s fledgling MMA career. The stoppage loss to Barnett was followed by a draw against SBG Ireland’s Richie Smullen.
Leaving Mckee needing to beat Kamps Epko to avoid going winless in three straight fights after starting off a perfect 5-0 in MMA.
After facing adversity for the first time in his young career and desperate to end a winless stretch, the lanky lightweight credits a change in mentality for his crucial victory at BAMMA 33 on December 15.
Mckee stated: “It was a huge relief to get the win, it was a massive weight off my shoulders. I went in really believing in what I could do and motivated to show everyone what I’m capable of.
“I’m a well-rounded fighter, I’m not one of these fighters that you’ll see coasting, riding out rounds. I’m always looking to finish.”