If there is one fighter that the Belfast crowd will go absolutely wild for, it’s “The Strabanimal” James Gallagher. Gallagher started training karate at 6 years old before beginning his amateur fighting experience at age 13. Currently training in Thailand after starting his journey at SBG Ireland, Gallagher has won five of his last six. After losing to current bantamweight champion Patchy Mix at Bellator 270, Gallagher – known for his submission skills – competed in MMA for the first time in nearly two years at Bellator 298 last August, scoring a split decision over James Gonzalez.


Also a submission artist and a Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist, Leandro Higo has already claimed bantamweight gold more than once on the regional MMA scene. Higo, who trains alongside the legendary Pitbull brothers, has won four of his last five fights, with submissions being scored in three of those four victories. Higo was most recently in action at Bellator 298 as well, defeating Nikita Mikhailov.


The rivalry between the SBG products and the Pitbull brothers products is a well-known one throughout MMA. Who will earn a huge victory and get one step closer to challenging for the Bellator bantamweight title?



Round 1


The two move into the center. Gallagher fires off a high kick that is easily blocked. The two feel each other out, both trying to be calculated in their striking. Gallagher flashing his right jab. Gallagher flashes his right hand again. Front kick by Gallagher. Low kick by Higo. Kick by Gallagher lands on the body. Front kick from Higo doesn’t land. Three-punch combination by Gallagher. Gallagher lands a low kick. Low kick from Higo. Both go back to being patient, waiting for the other to make a move.


High kick from Gallagher. Higo responds with a kick of his own. Combination from Gallagher. Spinning elbow by Higo lands, and Gallagher is wobbled! Higo rushes forward and takes Gallagher down! Gallagher tries to grab a hold of Higo’s neck, but Higo pulls his head out. Gallagher trying for an underhook. Higo postures up and looks to rain down strikes. Gallagher fires off elbows from the bottom. Gallagher looks for a leg lock. Higo responds with elbows to the calf. Gallagher grabs the other leg and tries for a leg lock there! Higo steps up and tries to land left hands to the head of Gallagher. Gallagher continues to pursue the leg lock but can’t get it before the bell.




Round 2


The two started slowly again in the center of the cage. Gallagher trying to pressure. Higo with a calf kick, but Gallagher raises his lead leg. Stance switching from Gallagher. Both men flashing their jabs. Low kick from Gallagher. High kick is blocked by Gallagher, but Higo lands a low kick. Higo trying to keep distance here. Low kick from Higo. Gallagher looks to counter with a combination, but Higo answers with a counter left hook.


Right hand lands for Gallagher. Front kick to the body by Gallagher. Low kick by Higo, and Gallagher gets hit low to briefly stop the action. Low kick from Higo. Spinning backfist attempt by Higo. Gallagher misses a spinning high kick attempt. One-two by Gallagher. High kick attempt from Higo doesn’t land much. Higo lands another spinning attack as Gallagher tries to come forward.




Round 3


Gallagher pursues Higo at the very start, pressing him against the fence. Higo, however, counters and the two jockey for position. Combination by Gallagher upon the separation. Higo with a front kick. Higo with a low kick, and Gallagher fires a combination to answer. Another combination from Gallagher. Higo wraps his arms around Gallagher and scores the takedown, trying to pursue Gallagher’s back. Gallagher is back on his feet, though he’s still fighting Higo off. Higo landed short kicks to the legs, looking to get Gallagher off balance.


Higo lifts Gallagher and brings him down. Gallagher is looking for a switch, but Higo is blocking him from transitioning. Gallagher looks to use his legs and the fence to free himself, but Higo fires off punches to his head. Higo looks to rain down some ground-and-pound on Gallagher. Gallagher lands an upkick. Higo lands a big right hand from the top. Higo landed a couple of strong right hands. Hammerfists from Higo are landing. Higo continues to land, and Gallagher gives up his back. Higo looks for a choke briefly but instead opts to lock Gallagher in a body lock and finish the round striking from the top.





Leandro Higo defeats James Gallagher by Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3) in a featherweight bout