Hot off the heels of their successful European Series debut, Bellator returns to the region on Saturday 23rd February 2019 for one of their numbered shows with a spotlight being shone on their emerging Irish talent. The UFC have not returned to the Emerald Isles since their last outing in 2015 which has left hometown fans screaming for more high level MMA action on their shores. Bellator will look to show the market what they have been missing out on by aiming to produce the next generation of Irish stars and hope to recapture a slice of the iconic atmosphere from Conor McGregor’s homecoming in 2014. The card is also highly significant as it marks the first time that Sky Sports broadcast a major North American MMA promotion in British prime time so the amount of eyeballs on the show will be greatly increased.
The evening is headlined with a clash between hometown star, James Gallagher (7-1), and American, Steven Graham (6-3), in a bantamweight contest. The rising talent from Strabane will be looking to bounce straight back from the first loss of his career after being upset by Ricky Bandejas last summer. Gallagher was caught on the feet during the first round and never recovered before being finished by ground strikes. He admitted that there were problems with his mentally going into that fight so he will be looking to prove that he has learnt from that whole experience and has improved as a result. The 22 year old has finished 6 of his 7 wins by submission and could well be looking to become the first man to tap Steven Graham out in his career. This will be the first time that Graham has fought outside of the US and he is currently on a 5 fight winning streak. He has also finished all but one of his wins by submission which could make for a very interesting clash should the fight hit the floor. Will the young Irish talent get right back on track and once again become Ireland’s next big hope or will Graham silence the hostile crowd and become an immediate name in the Bellator bantamweight division?
A huge domestic grudge match takes place in the co-main event as lightweights Peter Queally and Myles Price square off for local bragging rights. There is an intricate backstory to this one as Queally (11-4-1) believes that his opponent has betrayed the whole of Ireland after originally being a member of Team SBG. After leaving the team, Price later trained in America with Khabib Nurmagomedov in the lead up to his historic bout with Conor McGregor. Price (10-7) hit back by saying that he was just looking to improve his own game so sought one of the best gyms in the world in AKA to do so. ‘The Showstopper’ Queally is coming off of a big first round KO victory in FNG last May which was the first finish of his combined 11 professional wins. He is familiar with going to the scorecards as he has never been finished in his career so a gritty affair that goes the distance could be on the cards. Myles Price is coming off of a decision loss to Norman Parke last year and will be looking to prove that travelling further afield for training was the correct decision to make to progress his own career. The atmosphere will be absolutely electric for this one!
Another fight on the main card sees Kiefer Crosbie (5-0) look to remain unbeaten as he takes on Daniel Olejniczak (3-2-1) in a welterweight match up that could give the Irishman an opportunity to show he has arrived for real in one of Bellator’s most talent rich divisions. The televised portion of the card is rounded off by a featherweight bout between recent UFC and TUF competitor, Richie Smullen (3-1-1), and Polish fighter, Adam Gustab (3-3).
There are a host of intriguing names to keep an eye on during the evening’s preliminary action including Charlie Ward (5-3), Paul Redmond (14-7), Alfie Davis (10-3), Walter Gahadza (17-3) and Richard Kiely (2-1). Two female featherweights on the prelim portion of the card, Olga Rubin (5-0) and Leah McCourt (1-1), were featured at media day on Thursday so could well be set up for a promotional push if victorious.
Bellator 217: Gallagher v Graham will be broadcast live on Sky Sports Main Event and Action from 9pm on Saturday night. The preliminary card begins at 5pm and will be streamed globally on the Bellator App. WHOA TV will be in attendance at the 3Arena so stay tuned for coverage all weekend long.
Bantamweight – James Gallagher (7-1) vs. Steven Graham (6-3)
Lightweight – Peter Queally (11-4-1) vs. Myles Price (10-7)
Welterweight – Kiefer Crosbie (5-0) vs. Daniel Olejniczak (3-2-1)
Featherweight – Richie Smullen (3-1-1) vs. Adam Gustab (3-3)
Middleweight – Charlie Ward (5-3) vs. Jamie Stephenson (4-2)
Lightweight – Paul Redmond (14-7) vs. Charlie Leary (15-9-1)
Welterweight – Richard Kiely (2-1) vs. Mickael Bucher (3-4)
Welterweight – Walter Gahadza (17-3) vs. Ruben Crawford (16-3)
Flyweight – Ryan Curtis (4-1) vs. Luis Gonzalez (8-4)
Women’s Featherweight – Leah McCourt (1-1) vs. Hatice Ozyurt (2-6)
Women’s Featherweight – Olga Rubin (5-0) vs. Iony Razafiarison (5-1 1NC)
Middleweight – Will Fleury (4-1) vs. Shaun Taylor (8-1)
Catchweight (165lbs) – Alfie Davies (10-3) vs. Daniele Scatizzi (9-4)
Lightweight – Sam Slater (2-0) vs. Chris Duncan (3-0)
Featherweight – Dylan Logan (2-3) vs. Andrew Murphy (1-2)
Catchweight (138.8lbs) – Ian Cleary (1-1) vs. George Courtney (0-0)