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Bellator 204 Betting Play: The Strabanimal is Back

Bellator is back after about a month lay off and they put together a great card for this Friday night. For the main event, Bellator’s Bantamweight Champion Darrion Caldwell is moving up in weight to take on Noad Lahat in search of being the first “champ-champ” in Bellator history at Featherweight. It looks like if Caldwell gets this win against Lahat, he will be taking on Bellator’s Featherweight Champion Patricio Freire. Also on the card we have two undefeated prospects looking to keep their records intact in Logan Storley (taking on AJ Matthews) and James Gallagher (taking on newcomer and former CFFC Bantamweight Champion Ricky Bandejas).

Arguably the most exciting and intriguing fight on this fight card has to be the return of “The Strabanimal” James Gallagher after a year layoff due to injuries taking on top New Jersey Bantamweight prospect and former CFFC Bantamweight Champion, Ricky Bandejas. Gallagher who normally fights at Featherweight is dropping down to Bantamweight for the first time in his career in hopes to capture his first Championship belt. He is hoping a win here against arguably his toughest opponent will put him next in line for a title shot against current Bantamweight Champion, Darrion Caldwell. There has been some back and forth between Gallagher and Caldwell as of late which would make for one exciting Championship bout in the making.

Gallagher trains out of the well-renown camp at SBG Ireland with Head Coach John Kavanagh. He has been training with a lot of top-level fighters at SBG with the most well known fighter being one of his major training partners, Conor McGregor. Gallagher and McGregor have been helping get each other ready for their upcoming fights against Ricky Bandejas and Khabib Nurmagomedov. At only age 21, Gallagher may be young but when you watch him fight he looks like he is already a 10-year veteran of this sport. Gallagher has a 7-0 professional record with six finishes all by submission. Gallagher is a top-level wrestler that knows how to use his strikes, his faints and his level-changes very well to get on the inside of his opponents and take them down with ease. Even though he is primarily a wrestler, he has some great striking to keep his opponents guessing while waiting to defend the takedown attempts. This style of fighting will be a tall task for Bandejas or any fighter in Bellator’s Bantamweight division to handle.

Ricky Bandejas is an exciting young prospect fighting out of Nick Catone MMA in Brick, New Jersey. Bandejas has grown on the regional scene where has been fighting for the top regional promotion in New Jersey, Cage Fury Fighting Championship throughout his 11-year professional career. Bandejas has been on a tear as of fight late, coming into this fight on a five-fight win streak finishing three of his opponents (2 KO/TKO, 1 Submission). Bandejas has a background in wrestling much like Gallagher as he has wrestled all throughout high school. Instead of pursuing wrestling at the collegiate level he opted to start training at Nick Catone’s MMA & Fitness when it first opened up back in 2010. When he first started he just fell in love and devoted all of his time and effort into becoming a mixed martial artist. In just one year Catone asked Bandejas if he wanted to compete in an amateur fight and he was all for it. Once he won that first fight by arm triangle in the 3rd round it was just full steam ahead after that amassing a 7-1 amateur record to go along with his 10-1 professional record. MMA Today’s Max Freedman caught up with Bandejas earlier this spring.

This is the toughest fight for both Gallagher and Bandejas. Both of these fighters haven’t fought the level of competition that they both possess. This is a classic “grappler vs. striker” matchup as Gallagher is most comfortable imposing his strength on his opponents and taking them down at will where Bandejas is comfortable dictating the pace on the feet and applying pressure with flurries of kicks and punches. When reviewing tape, it’s clear that Gallagher does a superior job imposing his gameplan better than Bandejas. Gallagher will push forward and put the pressure on Bandejas early making him fight with his back to the cage. By doing this, it will make it easy for Gallagher to level-change and push Bandejas up against the cage to eventually take him down. Due to the strength advantage that Gallagher possesses over Bandejas it’s going to be quite hard for Bandejas to stop the relentess takedown attempts from Gallagher. Don’t expect a finish here in this fight but it could come down to Gallagher doing what he needs to do to get this decisive decision win.

Right now James Gallagher is sitting at -185 which is a great considering the level of talent he possesses. If you are looking to make a little bit of money, that is a great line for you tonight. Another option is to even parlay Darrion Caldwell, Logan Storley and James Gallagher together and get odds of +105. That’s it for this breakdown for Bellator 204, don’t forget to go and follow myself @GarrettK_MMA and @MMATodayNews on twitter. Remember to wager responsibly and best of luck!


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