Irish featherweight James Gallagher will take on Jeremiah Labiano in the headline attraction of Bellator’s November 10th show at Dublin’s 3Arena.
It was known for some time that Gallagher, a native of Strabane, County Tyrone but fighting out of Dublin’s world-famous SBG Concorde gym, would be one half of the show’s main event. However, Irish MMA journalist Peter Carroll recently confirmed with Bellator that Labiano will be Gallagher’s opponent and broke the news this morning via the Irish Mirror.
Labiano is a 30-year-old California native with a record of 11-5(2-1 in Bellator). Despite standing 5’10, he has competed primarily at bantamweight since turning pro in 2011. After losing four of six fights from February of 2014 to May of 2016, however, Labiano ascended to featherweight, where he has won two straight. Three of Labiano’s eleven wins have come via KO/TKO and four by submission. ‘The Kid’ has been stopped by strikes on two occasions but has never been submitted.
Gallagher seems to have latched on to the latter fact and is looking to be the first man to acquire a tap from Labiano inside the cage.
“Welcome to the real Jimmy show,” said Gallagher of the event. “It will be a first for the fans here to have a Bellator event of this magnitude in Ireland and it’s the first time that my opponent will ever be strangled, so I’m glad it’s in front of my people.”
“It’s the first phase of building the Jimmy empire, and I’m still only 20.”
Gallagher debuted for Bellator in July of 2016 and has racked up four straight wins in the promotion. Three of those have come via submission.
In his last fight, ‘The Strabanimal’ easily scythed through Chinzo Machida, brother of former UFC light-heavyweight champ Lyoto Machida, in New York, submitting the Brazilian with a rear-naked choke in just 2:22.
This will be his third time fighting on the island of Ireland under the Bellator umbrella. Last December, he submitted fast-talking American Anthony Taylor at the 3Arena and he made quick work of Israeli fighter Kirill Medvedovsky at the SSE Arena in Belfast back in February of this year.
The 20-year-old had spoken about potentially moving down and making his bantamweight debut for the Dublin show but he recently told the aforementioned Carroll that he had decided to postpone the move.
“I was talking to John (Kavanagh) about it and he just thought it would be better for me to stay at 145 at the moment,” Gallagher said.
“When you think about it, I’ve never been overpowered at 145. The guys might look bigger than me, but they have never had a huge strength advantage on me. I feel like my attributes are better than anyone’s in the division.
“Bantamweight can come later, but right now I’m focusing on featherweight.”
Gallagher has made it known in the past that he intends to become at two-weight champion in Bellator. At present, Brazilian fighters hold the belts at both bantamweight weight and featherweight. 28-year-old Eduardo Dantas(20-4) is the champion at 135lbs, while hard-hitting 30-year-old Patricio ‘Pitbull’ Freire(20-4) reigns at 145lbs.
A win over Labiano might not be enough to earn him a crack at a title, but with his popularity surging, you would never know what might happen if Gallagher is impressive on November 10th.