Having signed up a host of European talent in recent months, Bellator kicks off their European drive next month with an event in Newcastle and one in Dublin.
SBG Ireland head coach, John Kavanagh feels Bellator is offering European fighters a gateway to bigger money fights quicker than ever before.
“Bellator overnight has changed the lives of a huge amount of my guys, financially,” Kavanagh said to ESPN.
“For me as a trainer, it’s huge. After all these years of having to do these European shows just enough so that the guys can fight in America and actually earn some money, now they can do it here.
“I’m very excited, it’s been a great morale lift for all my guys. There’s great energy in the gym right now and I’m looking forward to this year and the coming years, making that relationship with Bellator even stronger.
“Bellator is going to be really the only show that regularly visits European cities that can give the fighters a decent payday. There are some other good European based shows, but the level of pay is so low it’s more like the pros are amateurs.
“There’s nobody that can make a living fighting on European shows, whereas at Bellator, they’re actually being paid like regular fighters – they can train full time and just focus on fighting, rather than having to work security on the weekends or work nine to five and train early in the morning or late at night.”
Looking ahead to the event, which takes place in at the 3Arena in Dublin on Feb 23rd, Kavanagh said,“It’s going to be a fantastic night.”
“It’ll be a packed arena, it’s a big fight card, a lot of Irish guys on the card so I think there’ll be a really nice momentum-build as the night goes on, building to a climax with Gallagher headlining against a tough American opponent, coming off a loss and get back on a win.”
With a who’s who of Irish fighters appearing on the card, the event is sure to be popular.
Richard Kiely comes out of retirement to make his Bellator debut, the event will he headlined by James Gallagher, and there will be an all Irish grudge match between Peter Queally and Myles Price.
Other names to look out for are Richie Smullen who competed in The Ultimate Fighter, popular amateur Micky Doran makes his pro debut having competed on the popular Belfast show Clan Wars, and for this writer, it will be good to see how the pair of Scots, Shaun Taylor and Chris Duncan fare at a higher level.
James Gallagher (7-1) vs. Steven Graham (6-3)
Peter Queally (11-4-1) vs. Myles Price (10-7)
Karl Moore (8-2) vs. Yannick Bahati (8-4-1 NC)
Sinead Kavanagh (5-3) vs. Olga Rubin (5-0) at 145
Kiefer Crosbie (5-0) vs. Daniel Olejniczak (3-2-1)
Will Fleury (4-1) vs. Shaun Taylor (8-1)
Ryan Curtis (4-1) vs. Luis Gonzalez (8-4)
Ian Cleary (1-1) vs. Micky Doran (pro debut)
Walter Gahadza (17-3) vs. Ruben Crawford (16-3) at 170
Sam Slater (2-0) vs. Chris Duncan (3-0) at 155
Paul Redmond (14-7) vs Charlie Leary (15-9-1) at 155
Richard Kiely (2-1) vs Mickael Bucher (3-4) at 170
Leah McCourt (1-1) vs Hatice Ozyurt (2-6) at 145
John Redmond (7-13) vs. George Tokkos (4-0) at 185
Richie Smullen (3-1-1) vs. Adam Gustab (3-3) at 145
Dylan Logan (2-3) vs. Andrew Murphy (1-2) at 145
Photo credit (The Mac Life)