Bellator 217: “Gallagher vs. Graham” aired last night (Sat., Feb. 23, 2019) via Paramount Network from 3Arena in Dublin, Ireland. The main event saw the “Strabanimal” James Gallagher (7-1) in his first fight following his surprising loss to Ricky Bandejas last August. Would he be back to his old form fighting Steven “Golden” Graham (6-3) at home?
It only took Gallagher four seconds to get a takedown, and from there it was one position to the next as he rapidly moved to a full mount. Graham kept trying to stand up with Gallagher’s weight on his back and would go right back down. He’d try to roll under Gallagher and get tagged with elbows. He stood up one more time and it was the last time. Gallagher sunk the rear naked choke in deep and forced Graham to tap out at 2:31 of the first round. Here’s how it looked.
The victorious “Strabanimal” spoke to John McCarthy after his big main event win.
“DUBLIN!! WHAT’S HAPPENING!! YES! YES!! You can see at the start my angle wasn’t correct, so I stopped and switched it. I took me time. Listen to that crowd! I strangled the life out of him! Yes! Yes! I swear to God I’m so thankful for everybody standing up for me after a big loss. I’m f—ing back! Look!! This is what I’m talking about! I’m very grateful for this opportunity. Thank you. The best part about it all my granddad is sick back home but he’s watching it on Sky Sports. Soldier this one’s for you! I would not be here today if it wasn’t for my mother and father standing here. It’s my mother’s birthday on Tuesday. Tonight we celebrate!!”
A Lightweight fight from Dublin also aired with Peter Queally (11-4-1) taking on the more middling Myles Price (10-7), who hoped to move one more notch above the Mendoza line.
Queally had some moments of shine in the first round that a partisan pro-Queally audience loved as he busted Price’s face open with a few choice elbows. That was sandwiched between long periods of time where Price pushed him into the cage to land uppercuts and knees from clinch. You could argue either man won the round depending on your mindset.
The second and third round seemed to more clearly favor Price. Round 2 saw Price hurt Queally with a body shot and control him against the cage for the duration, while the third saw Price get the takedowns he couldn’t in the first two and take the back working for the finish, ending up on top in full mount late in the fight. It would be up to the judges after that.
Unfortunately a stunned Dublin crowd did not get the result they were expecting as Myles Price got his hand raised via split decision of 28-29 and 29-28 X2.
The undefeated Welterweight prospect Kiefer Crosbie (5-0) was set to face a man who could barely keep his head afloat over .500 in Daniel Olejniczak (3-2-1).
On a show designed around SBG Ireland fighters getting their chance to shine, the undefeated Crosbie was no exception here. Olejniczak was outmatched on the feet and when he got hurt and takedown down, Crosbie was slick as butter transitioning to the back for the rear naked choke. After the tap made it official at 4:09 he spoke to John McCarthy.
“Let’s talk about this crowd — WHAT’S UP DUBLIN!!! We are the best fans in the world pound for pound. But yeah, that was a good performance, SBG jiu-jitsu. We have animals in my gym and I’m just rolling with them every day. I’m not just a striker I can do it all. You’re looking at the future 165 champion of the world. Let’s make a division and blow the roof off this place!”
Rounding out the main card, Featherweights Richie Smullen (3-1-1) and Adam Gustab (3-2) squared off at a perhaps pivotal point in their young careers. This was a one-sided and often times lackluster fight. Gustab couldn’t defend takedowns, but he could defend submissions once he got taken down, which resulted in three rounds of being put on his butt and surviving over and over again.
The judges rendered a 30-27 X2 and 30-26 unanimous decision all in Smullen’s favor, who spoke to “Big” John McCarthy afterward.
“I had a good fight, but I should have finished that 99 out of 100 times. My team my coaches, all my team my sponsors, baby I’m back. You’ve seen when I take you down, you don’t get back up.”
For complete Bellator 217 results and coverage click here.