After years of scouring the globe for free agents and rising prospects, Bellator MMA finally has the young, marketable, up-and-coming talent it has been searching for since Scott Coker took over for Bjorn Rebney in 2014. Bellator’s roster is robust, oozing with grizzled veterans and rising stars.
The promotion’s June 24 show at Madison Square Garden was headlined by legends Chael "The American Gangster" Sonnen and Wanderlei "The Axe-Murderer" Silva, but the idea behind the project was to get some exposure and new eyeballs to the young prospects on the card. If that was the plan, Bellator can confidently say "mission accomplished."
With undefeated Irish featherweight James "The Strabanimal" Gallagher (7-0) earning a huge pop from the crowd and generating a major buzz with a quick finish of Chinzo Machida, the promotion could jump into uncharted territory as far as popularity goes. Conor McGregor’s hype is clearly trickling down to Gallagher, as the 20-year-old enjoyed a favorable response from the Irish fight fans on hand at "The World’s Most Famous Arena." He may very well be the future face of Bellator.
Elsewhere on the card, boxing sensation Heather "The Heat" Hardy scored a knockout finish against Alice Yauger — a fight that marked her professional MMA debut. The 35-year-old peppered her opponent with strikes to the face and body, before earning a ref stoppage seconds prior to the closing bell of the third frame. Hardy said post-fight that she plans to transition back and forth between boxing and MMA, depending on which sport gives her the best opportunity.
Bellator NYC was supposed to serve as a spotlight event for Aaron Pico and Michael Chandler. Both fell short, losing to mega-underdogs Zach Freeman and Brent Primus, respectively. However, Hardy and Gallagher’s emergence made the Pico and Chandler losses feel a bit less devastating for Bellator.
In other matters, the card featured historic victories by Matt Mitrione and Sonnen, who took out Fedor Emelianenko and Silva, respectively. By all accounts, Bellator’s debut at Madison Square Garden was a massive success. The promotion will be back in New York later this year, with an event Aug. 25 in Verona, New York.
- Tom Shackleford 2 weeks ago
- Kareem Gantt March 29th, 2017
- Tom Shackleford 3 weeks ago
- Nate Todd 1 weeks ago
- Vanessa Vallon April 1st, 2017