SBG's James Gallagher continues to impress with submission win at Bellator 169 in the 3Arena
The US promotion Bellator MMA touched down for its debut show in Ireland in the 3Arena last night. John Kavanagh’s SBG gym had four athletes in the five fights on the card. Though his team went 2-2 on the night, it’s incredible to think the majority of the US TV broadcast is occupied by fighters from Kavanagh’s club in Dublin.
The two SBG wins came from Sinead Kavanagh and James Gallagher.
Kavanagh was totally dominant in her win against a young, game opponent. Though it was a one-sided beating, Elina Kallionidou earned a lot of respect the way she handled herself in the face of adversity.
Gallagher has been considered a prospect for a long time. Still only 20, he fought beyond his years to weather an early storm and get the job done.
Heavyweight Main Event: Muhammed Lawal vs. Satoshi Ishii
There is always a risk when an MMA event comes to town and it’s not being headlined by an Irish interest story. Way back when Conor McGregor won his first Cage Warriors world title, he did so from the co-main event slot. The heavyweight title fight that followed his was to a disinterested audience, a fraction of the size of the previous fight, discussing what had gone before. The same can be said for Lawal v Ishii at Bellator 169. Lawal tried to make it interesting. Ishii was overly cautious. Lawal was reduced to walking forward with his hands down but Ishii kept retreating. At the end of the three rounds Lawal got his hand raised but little else. This was a sad finish to an otherwise great night of fights.
Featherweight Co-Main Event: James Gallagher defeats Anthony Taylor
Anthony Taylor talked a great game during fight week. He certainly played his part in hyping the fight. However, if you scratched away the bravado and looked at his record, you might wonder how he ended up in with someone as accomplished as James Gallagher. For his part Gallagher was classy once the cage door shut. He warded off Taylor’s explosive flurries and stayed calm and patient throughout. The first round was close. The second saw Gallagher establish himself more. The third saw Gallagher realise the finish he had been building towards. As Taylor rushed in Gallagher swept his lead leg from under him. As Taylor fell forward Gallagher snatched a body-lock and quickly jumped to take Taylor’s back. Once on the back with a body triangle, Gallagher began to work for a rear naked choke. Taylor was lost and walked to his corner with Gallagher like a backpack. As Taylor asked his corner for instruction Gallagher cinched the choke in deeper and coaxed the tap. Gallagher moves to 5-0 but there will be greater challenges ahead.
Featherweight Feature Bout: Sinead Kavanagh defeats Elina Kallionidou
The fact that one judge scored this 30-25 in favour tells the whole story. The fight wasn’t close. The big surprise in this fight was that SBG’s Sinead Kavanagh couldn’t get the finish. All credit to Greek fighter Elina Kallionidou, not only did she stay in the fight but she never looked for a way out despite the heavy shots coming at her. This marked another impressive victory for Kavanagh. She may have already outgrown the European circuit and may need to look Stateside for bigger challenges.
Featherweight Bout: Daniel Weichel defeats Brian Moore
Wexfordman Brian Moore fought hard but came up short in the first round. Germany’s Daniel Weichel is a seasoned veteran and should have been fighting Team Ryano’s Paul Redmond. Redmond injured his elbow in preparation for the fight. Moore’s original opponent also fell afoul of injury allowing him to step up and face Weichel. A classy grappler, Weichel looked comfortable once the fight hit the mat. In the end he sank a deep arm triangle and forced a tap from Moore towards the end of the first round. Riding a three fight win streak, the German is in line for a crack at Bellator featherweight champion, Daniel Straus.
Cameron Else defeats Dylan Tuke (Featherweight Bout)
Tuke arrived to the cage to a big ovation from the crowd. A hugely popular fighter, the SBG prospect had made his three professional wins look pretty easy to date. Else had other ideas and stopped Tuke in the first real exchange of the fight. Hard to tell if Else is better than his now 4-3 record suggests or whether Tuke just got caught cold. Either way, it will be interesting to see how these to young fighters progress from here.