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  1. ITV Report

Ballymena fighter aiming to win BAMMA world title

Ballymena’s Rhys McKee is aiming to win the BAMMA world lightweight title this Friday night, when he takes on the only man to ever beat him.

McKee, 22, will face Englishman Tim Barnett live on ITV4 – after enduring a difficult road to the world title shot.

Just eight weeks before the biggest win of his career, his father passed away.

“I had to sit down with my family and decide whether I was going to go ahead with it,” McKee told UTV Sport.

“For me, the answer was always yes. And I was going to win.”

And he did just that, winning the Lonsdale lightweight title in Dublin in devastating fashion.

Rhys McKee enjoys a victory in the octagon. Credit: INPHO

However, since then, it has not been smooth sailing.

In his last three fights, McKee has had one win, one draw - against highly-rated prospect Richie Smullen - and that single loss against Barnett.

“I thought I could go in there and dust him [Barnett] inside a minute,” he admitted.

“I was maybe a bit naive.

“I can't wait to go into his home town and hand him his first loss, like he did to me.”

The first chapter of this simmering rivalry ended in defeat for McKee.

But victory on Friday night would cement the Ballymena man’s place as one of the hottest up-and-coming fighters in the UK.