James Gallagher Sees Bandejas As Next Step To Title
At Bellator 204 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, James Gallagher—the Conor McGregor teammate who Bellator is clearly incredibly high on—moves down a weight class, from featherweight, where he was slightly undersized compared to the average fighter, to bantamweight.
“It’s been going perfect, it has,” he said of his weight cut when talking to FIGHT SPORTS last week.
“I’ve been working with George Lockhart, who’s one of the best fighter nutritionists in the world, and I’m getting the right advice from the right people. I feel better than ever. I feel bigger, I’m just carrying less body fat; my muscle mass has gone up, my strength has gone up. I’ve never felt better.”
For his first challenge at 135, Gallagher is facing Ricky Bandejas, a 10-1 prospect trained by Nick Catone. Whatever your opinion is of Gallagher, it’s a big step up for Bandejas in terms of stage, as he’s only fought close to home in the regional Caged Fury Fighting Championship up to this point. This is his first ever fight with any sort of substantial travel. Does Gallagher see that as an advantage for him, since he has already had to go far away from home to fight?
“One hundred percent. I’ve been competing in competitions since I’ve been seven years old,” explained Gallagher, referring to when he started competing in karate tournaments. “I started jiu jitsu and MMA when I was 12. I travelled around the world competing in MMA and jiu jitsu, I’ve done jiu jitsu competitions all over Europe, I’ve travelled to America, I’ve travelled everywhere in competition. And that experience, you can’t buy that, you can’t train that. You don’t know what it’s like, I know what it’s like. I know I have my food set up, I have my gym set up, my training set up, got all these contacts. I know when you arrive fight week, none of that sh*t’s ready for you, and it’s too late.”
So what’s his personal solution?
“I rent a house, I get myself a personal chef, I get myself a nutritionist, I bring my whole family over, my team around me, so I’m home away from home. I’ve been there fight week where you can’t eat the right food so it’s hard to make weight and you don’t have the right facilities to train in, so I’ve just made it home…I know he won’t be [ready].”
While Gallagher-Bandejas is on a card headlined by bantamweight champion Darrion Caldwell, Caldwell has moved up to take a fight at featherweight against Noad Lahat. It makes a statement about just how open bantamweight is right now. With that in mind, how far does the Irishman think he is from a title shot if he wins tonight in Sioux Falls?
“You haven’t been following it much, have you not?” he asked, arguably overambitious about his weight class debut against a Bellator debutante. “You haven’t done your research, have you? Because the whole f*ckin’ world knows that this fight is a title contender shot. My next fight’s gonna be for the world title in Dublin.”
Gallagher concedes that Caldwell has the wrestling advantage, but sees himself dominating a potential title fight regardless of where it goes. “It goes to the ground? He hasn’t even experienced my level of jiu jitsu. He can take me down all day. He can take me down all he wants. I’m gonna elbow him in the head, I’m gonna wrap up his neck, and I’m gonna strangle him to death.”