James Gallagher is back on the winning track.
Before last summer, the young upstart Irish grappler had announced himself as the next big thing in MMA, talking a big game and backing it up with pristine submissions. He was quickly drawing comparisons to Conor McGregor with his penchant for showmanship. But at Bellator 204, Ricky Bandejas put Gallagher’s plans on hold, knocking him out in under three minutes.
On Saturday night at Bellator 217 in Dublin, Ireland, “The Strabanimal” returned to his winning ways, submitting Steven Graham in front of his home country crowd.
Gallagher came out with the crowd behind him and immediately caught a body kick from Graham, quickly taking it to the floor and securing the back. Gallagher locked in a body triangle and, try as he might, Graham was unable to shake the Irish grappler off of him. Eventually, Gallagher snuck his arm under the chin, forcing the Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt to tap out at 2:30 of the first round. The win moves Gallagher to 8-1 in his career and puts him right back in the mix in the Bellator bantamweight division.
In the co-main event, Myles Price took on Peter Queally in an Irish grudge match. Price previously trained at Team SBG but ruffled some feathers after he spent time at American Kickboxing Academy while Khabib Nurmagomedov was training for Conor McGregor. Unfortunately, not much was settled as the fight was close with Price doing just enough to squeak out a split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28). After dropping the first frame, Price hurt Queally briefly in the second with a shot to the body and then in the third, secured a takedown and the mount to leave a lasting impression on the judges. With the win, Price now enters the deep waters of Bellator’s lightweight division.
In a welterweight showcase fight, Kiefer Crosbie kept his undefeated record in tact, submitting Daniel Olejniczak in the first round. Crosbie showed an impressive variety of skills, clocking Olejniczak with heavy hooks on the feet before countering a takedown and ending up on top. Once the fight went to the floor, Crosbie quickly took the back, locked in a body triangle, and then secured the rear-naked choke. The win moved Crosbie to 6-0 in his career and 2-0 in the Bellator cage.
In the main card opener, Richie Smullen got things started off for Team SBG, winning a unanimous decision over Adam Gustab. Smullen used his superior wrestling and grappling to smother Gustab for 15 minutes, though he was unable to lock up a fight-ending submission. The fight was Smullen’s debut in Bellator and considering the team he trains with, expect to see the young featherweight fast-tracked in Bellator’s red-hot 145 pound division.