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SBG sensation James ‘The Strabanimal’ Gallagher was one of the main reasons why the UFC’s main rival, Bellator, have brought their brand to Ireland.
Since signing with the international promotion, Gallagher has recorded two victories in as many outings. In December, the Strabane man claimed a victory in the co-main event of the first co-promoted event between Bellator and BAMMA in Dublin.
Although the collaboration has widely been praised for giving the Irish BAMMA charges a chance to impress Bellator, Gallagher believes that his employers should stop putting on co-promoted events with BAMMA to take UFC’s place as the dominant MMA brand in Europe.
Gallagher’s revealed his issues with BAMMA when asked about a press conference the promotion hosted last week at the SSE Arena in Belfast. When asked if he was disappointed that his February 24 opponent, Kirill Medvedovsky, wasn’t present on the day, the 20-year-old claimed that he was more disappointed with the media day itself.
James Gallagher lands a punch on Anthony Taylor. Image: ©INPHO/Gary Carr
“I wasn’t disappointed that my opponent wasn’t there as much as I was just disappointed with the press conference itself,” said Gallagher. “That was a BAMMA press conference, not Bellator. It had nothing to do with me and I really don’t know why I was there, to be honest.
“The previous press conferences I have done were for Bellator. They were put on for me to sell fights, but I really felt like I just should’ve stayed at home last Thursday.
“Whether the opponent was there or not, that press conference was about BAMMA and it was s**t, to be honest. That’s just how I feel about it.”
Gallagher dismissed the notion that attending the event disrupted his training schedule. Instead, he criticised the impact of the press conference, stating that he doubted it helped ticket sales for the show.
“This wasn’t a scheduling issue. The previous press conferences I’ve done for Bellator have been to get the word out about my fights. They were worth the time because that’s exactly what they ended up doing.
“If it’s about selling a fight I’m always happy to do that because, as we all know, this is about people tuning in to see the fights at the end of the day. I really doubt that there were many tickets sold off the back of that press conference in Belfast.”
Gallagher doubled down on his criticism of BAMMA when he suggested that Bellator should stop co-promoting events with the European organization to become the dominant MMA brand in Europe, a continent that has not been getting much love from the UFC as of late.
James Gallagher celebrates his victory. Image: ©INPHO/Gary Carr
“Bellator definitely has it in their power to become the biggest international promotion when it comes to the European market, but they need to drop BAMMA if they want to do that.
“They need to come over here with a proper Bellator card and f**k all the rest of the mixing promotion stuff. If they put on their own card they can really show people what they’re about.
“BAMMA’s involvement takes away from Bellator. If they got rid of them they could go really big with a card in Ireland. I really feel like this is something that they need to do.
“I think I’ll be able to draw the crowds without BAMMA, no problem. I just want to do it bigger. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for Bellator allowing me to be co-main event in Ireland, but I want them to take these events to the next level.”
Asked about whether Bellator leaving BAMMA would hinder some other Irish fighters, Gallagher believes that the promotion could simply sign more Irish fighters to put on the Irish cards. He also insisted that he would sell out any arena in the country if he was given a title shot by the promotion.
“I don’t think Bellator need anyone. They come to Ireland and they have people like me, Sinead Kavanagh, Chris Fields, and there are other fighters on the BAMMA side of things that could get called up too.
“I just want to do a proper show over here. This stuff we’re doing now with BAMMA, that’s toy stuff. Let’s drop BAMMA and get a few title fights to Ireland.
“Give me a crack at the featherweight title, make me the main event and I guarantee that I’ll sell out any arena in Ireland.”
Finally, Gallagher underlined what a good job Bellator have done since coming into Ireland, but highlighted how he fails to see the benefit of the promotion’s collaboration with BAMMA.
Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal. Image: ©INPHO/Gary Carr
“What they’ve put on over here has been great so far. They had me co-main event the first time and then they had ‘King Mo’ as the main event. That’s a huge name for Ireland.
“This time we have a former world champion, Liam McGeary, taking on Chris Fields, that’s another superb fight as far as I’m concerned.
“Bellator haven’t put a foot wrong, it’s just the other toy s**t with BAMMA. It’s step back for Bellator. I can see how BAMMA benefit from this arrangement, but I’m struggling to see what Bellator gain from it.
“Bellator know the game, though. I’m sure they have something up their sleeve, but I’m just struggling to see what that is at the moment.”