Sunday 24 September 2017

Gallagher gathers more momentum at Bellator 173 in Belfast

James Gallagher
James Gallagher
Fergus Ryan

Fergus Ryan

Bellator 173 began with the curious case of confused weight classes and ended with, once again, an MMA card in foreign territory catering to a US TV audience.

At Bellator 169 in Dublin in December, James Gallagher fought in the penultimate bout of the evening submitting Anthony Taylor in the third round via his patened rear-naked choke. Once his fight finished there was an exodus from the 3Arena. In Belfast on Saturday night a similar post-Gallagher evacuation occurred. The Stabanimal looked great in victory in the penultimate fight, and as he walked from the cage, so did the bulk of the crowd from the SSE Arena.

I understand there is a trade-off between pleasing the crowd in attendance, and fitting out your fight card for US TV, but seeing as how overseas Bellator events are aired after the fact, could the crowd not see the Gallagher main event while the TV audience viewed an edited package to suit their needs? It seems wrong to be sitting in an empty arena watching ‘the main event’.

Catchweight (217 lbs): Liam McGeary vs. Brett McDermott

With the Arena almost empty, it was as if McGeary and McDermott didn’t fancy hanging around either. Both set to work at a high pace, looking to get the first round finish. McDermott dropped McGeary early in the round only to be on the receiving end of some heavy shots himself after the former Light Heavyweight champion recovered. Both men returned to their stools at the end of the first round bloodied and battered after a fierce five minutes.

McDermott came out looking the worse for wear at the start of the second while McGeary seemed re-energised after the break. After multiple fast jabs opened up cuts around McDermott’s eyes, the doctor was called in to take a look. Sensibly, he stopped the fight as he deemed the damage sufficient to limit the vision of McDermott.

Featherweight: James Gallagher vs. Kiril Medvedovsky

In the end there wasn’t a lot to this one. Gallagher looked classy from the off. Medvedovsky was reduced to defence and evading as Gallagher came forward with intent. The end came swiftly once the fight hit the floor just after the two minute mark. Gallagher transitioned to take the back and sink a rear naked choke in effortlessly. In his post-fight interview he called out American fighter AJ McKee as his next opponent, but the way things are going, Bellator featherweight champion Daniel Straus won’t be too far away from Gallagher’s lips.

Women’s Catchweight (140 pounds): Sinead Kavanagh vs. Iony Razafiarison

Based on Kavanagh’s previous outings, the Dublin knockout artist would have entered this contest as a massive favourite. Razafiarison took a heavy shot early in the first round before dropping to the mat. The fight began to have a familiar feel, only for Kavanagh to rush the follow up and present Razafiarison the opportunity to grapple her way to recovery. From then, it was all Razafiarison. The French fighter landed takedowns at will and used her dominant grappling to dictate the fight. The three judges scored it 30-27, 30-26 and 30-25 highlighting how much control Razafiarison demonstrated over the more experienced Dubliner.

Welterweight: Colin Fletcher vs. Alex Lohore

Fletcher and Lohore put on a thoroughly entertaining first round. Fletcher showed incredible creativity to conjure submission attempts from the most unlikely of positions. After missing out on a D’arce choke early in the round, Fletcher found an armbar that he transferred into a gogoplata after some sloppy defence from Lohore. After Flecther missed with another armbar attempt both fighters made their way back to the feet. The round ended with Fletcher looking the more accomplished fighter.

In the second round Lohore hit a nice foot sweep to take Fletcher to the mat. Once there, the former Ultimate Fighter finalist worked quickly to take the back landing a deep rear naked choke. Solid finish for the Frenchman.

Featherweight: James McErlean vs. Shay Walsh

McErlean and Walsh provided a great curtain raiser to Bellator 173. Walsh worked hard in the first and cutting McErlean in the second. More action followed in the third with Walsh taking a comfortable 29-28 victory on all three scorecards.

What was not widely reported was the confusion around the contracted weight. Walsh weighed in at 61kgs/135lbs as a bantamweight, while McErlean came in at 66kg/145lbs as a featherweight. When the dust settled it transpired that the bout was supposed to go ahead at bantamweight. As reported by Jim Edwards for FloCombat, an agreement was reached where McErlean could weigh no more than 70/kgs155lbs come fight night.

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