Bellator 204: “Caldwell vs. Lahat” comes to Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D., this Friday night (Aug. 17, 2018), featuring a non-title bout between Bantamweight champion Darrion Caldwell (12-1) against Featherweight standout Noad Lahat (12-3).
Fight fans can also look forward to Conor McGregor’s training partner James Gallagher (7-0) being featured on the Paramount Network-televised card. Even though the spotlight on his “Notorious” friend is large, Gallagher has always fought to be his own man and his undefeated record is a testament to the fact he’s a capable Straight Blast Gym fighter in his own right.
The streaking Ricky Bandejas (10-1) will put everything Gallagher is made of to the test. He brings five straight wins in from Cage Fury Fighting Championships (CFFC) with three wins by knockout and three by submission. Even with those credentials some may still consider it an upset if Bandejas pulls off a big win in Sioux Falls.
Gallagher recently chatted with MMAmania.com about the next test of his young and promising mixed martial arts (MMA) career coming right after a terrible knee injury that took him out of a main event fight in Dublin.
“I feel amazing! I’ve never felt better. (The injury) has made me into a different person. It showed me some dark places. It showed me different routes to go when I face adversity. It showed me how to overcome things, overcome some massive things. Where I’ve lacked before is I thought small things were quite big. I’ve never had any big adversities before really. I’ve never had any problems or anything everything was smooth so any small little problem was quite big but knowing all these small little problems that you faced in camp they’re a breeze to me now.”
Almost all fighters would prefer to have their mettle tested in a fight instead of on an operating table, but Gallagher is still confident that surgery and rehab made him a better man.
“They’re nothing, you know what I’m saying? I’ve dealt with the biggest, the worst, the lowest of the lowest, and now I’m back at the top. I’ve climbed my way back and now I’m gonna go in here and stiffen Ricky up, and then I’m going to move on and do the same to Darrion Caldwell.”
It’s interesting he should mention that given Caldwell is in the main event, but we’ll circle back to that point in a minute. First, Gallagher wants to make it clear he’s at the top of his game again.
“I am back and back better than ever! I feel like it’s fun. I don’t feel that tense feeling that I usually feel coming into fights. It’s like freedom for me, do you know what I’m saying? It’s like I’m home. I’m back, and the whole roster is fucked. They wrote me off when I was down. When I was down at my lowest I had to listen to them write me off, put me down more, say all this shit about me, now I’m back (and) we’re not going to hear a fucking word. They’re all going to be away running.”
Does he also feel that the 10-1 Ricky Bandejas will run away from him in the Bellator cage?
“He’s a Ricky of many trades, that’s for sure, but he’s not fucking good at anything. He knows a little bit of everything. He’s decent on the feet, he’s okay in the wrestling, he’s okay on the floor. He knows he’s a little bit of everything, but he’s not excellent at anything. He’s got a good record, he’s a good opponent to beat, I’m not underestimating him one bit. I feel like he’s going to be here prepared to put on the show of his life, so when he comes out this is his chance. He’s going to fight for his life, but there’s no one that wants it more than me. I’m coming in here prepared ready for that kind of opponent. I’m going to be focused, switched on, and every point every angle he makes I’m going to be a step ahead. I’m going to cut that angle before him, hit that position before him, land that shot before him.”
As promised, Gallagher has some harsh words for the champ. While Caldwell is moving on up to 145 pounds on Friday, Gallagher is moving down to 135 pounds … and he’s not impressed by Caldwell’s performances thus far.
“He’s the most boring bastard of a fighter I’ve ever met. It’s deliberate (that we’re on Bellator 204). It’s not a coincidence. It’s meant to be like that. So if he gets past his guy (and) when I get past my guy, then it’s on! It’s on. He can’t say anything else. It’s on, you know what I mean? I’m ready, I’m going for him back in Dublin. That’s where they’re bringing it. He’s getting dragged over, I’m prepared to go there, you know what I mean? I’m over here on his side. I’m going to go in here and fight and win, and then he’s coming to my side, he’s gonna step in there against me, he’s gonna stiffened up. I’m going to take his belt and then he can move on.”
You really would think that Gallagher was fighting Caldwell on Friday instead of Bandejas. The hits just kept coming as Gallagher poured on the trash talk.
“He’s old you know, he’s 30 years old, and he’s coming to the end you know what I mean? He couldn’t finish his dinner never mind a fucking fight. You can hear it in his interviews already. He’s saying he needs 50,000 Irish fans who want him to come over to Ireland to fight. This is the words he’s saying. He doesn’t think I’m going to win my next fight, all this bullshit. When I do he’s got no choice. If he decides not to, he’s gone. You show up and you fight anywhere when you’re the champion. You show up in anyone’s backyard, you show up in your own backyard, you show up on the fucking street if someone wanted to fight you! Don’t say I don’t want to fight unless there are 50,000 Irish fans who want me over there before I go over. He doesn’t even got 50,000 American fans who want him to fight HERE, so how the fuck does he expect 50,000 Irish fans who want him to come to Ireland? There’s 50,000 Irish fans who want to see ME smoke him and take his belt.”
Let’s just hope that security is ready on Friday night because if they both win we may just get an UNSANCTIONED fight in the Sanford Pentagon.
Complete audio of our interview is embedded above, and complete coverage of “Caldwell vs. Lahat” resides here at MMA Mania all week long.
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