It is no secret that the rigors of being a fighter is not a glamorous beauty pageant. Fighting is a lifestyle for those who put their body and soul on the line every time they make the walk to the cage. Cal Ellenor is an example of this unbridled perseverance. He had to deal with the loss of his mother in 2019 and endure a brain-scan scare. However, after one year of dashed plans, his fight against James Gallagher is finally coming to fruition as the headliner of Bellator Euro Series 9.
Ellenor has never lost due to a stoppage in his 10-fight career, but it will be interesting to monitor his condition as he comes into this fight with Gallagher after a nearly two-year layoff.
As evident by his Bellator debut in February 2019 against former Cage Warriors flyweight champion Nathan Greyson, Ellenor is not fazed by adversity. It took just 20 seconds into the fight for Greyson to open a cut on Ellenor’s face, but Ellenor responded three minutes later with a rear-naked choke to clinch the victory.
When people look at Gallagher, the first thing that gets noticed is how his mannerisms in the cage, the trash talk, the arena ambience filled with “Olé” chants, and the cadence in speech delivery during post-fight interviews makes it seem like he’s a spitting image of SBG Ireland teammate Conor McGregor. The contrast in fight styles between the two countrymen, however, is where the similarities end. The 23-year-old Gallagher has a steady stand-up game, but it’s his grappling and work on the ground that serves as the elephant in the room.
What makes Gallagher into must-watch television is the unpredictability of his off-the-wall personality. He shakes his head in disapproval during fights and raises his hands up while invading his opponent’s personal space during introductions, like at Bellator NYC against Lyoto Machida’s brother, Chinzo.
Bellator Euro Series 9 takes place on Saturday, October 3, and will serve as the finishing touch of Bellator’s three-night stay in Italy’s Allianz Cloud locale. The 12:45 p.m. ET prelims and the main card, which is scheduled for a 5 p.m. ET start, will both stream live on the Bellator MMA mobile app.
The bantamweight clash between James Gallagher and Cal Ellenor has been scheduled and scrapped three times already. What happens when these men finally make the walk to the cage?
Given that both men are better grapplers than they get credit for being, this bout could be as close to a chess match as it can get. It’s a shame that Ellenor went about fighting without clout for the better part of six years until broadening his reach with fans by coming to Bellator in 2019.
Gallagher began his career as a featherweight and draws comparisons to another heralded MMA figure in teammate Conor McGregor. “The Strabanimal” is less Instagram friendly, but eight of his 10 wins have come by submission, which makes him the MMA male version of Ronda Rousey. However, his preferred weapon is the rear-naked choke, in contrast to Rousey’s armbar.
Much like Amanda Nunes not getting as fair of a shake in advertising in her 2016 bantamweight championship title fight with “Rowdy” Ronda, Ricky Bandejas was also puzzlingly overlooked ahead of his bout against Gallagher in 2018 at Bellator 204. Bandejas would proceed to hand the Irishman his first career loss.
It is as clear as day that the promotion is grooming Gallagher to be a mainstay draw in Europe. However, the road ahead of him is a long one if he wants to challenge for the bantamweight belt against Juan Archuleta, who claimed the vacant title with a victory over Patchy Mix in mid-September. A chance of redemption against Bandejas is ideally in the works too as he continues to fine-tune his skills.
Famous kickboxer Robin van Roosmalen returns to MMA action on the preliminary card. How will he fare against Nauzet Trujillo?
In what seemingly looks like a real-life Pokémon battle between Hitmonlee and Hitmonchan, Trujillo and van Roosmalen are pitted against each other after both let go of a kickboxing career to transition into MMA.
Trujillo embarked on a professional Muay Thai journey in 2017 that saw him attain a 2-0 record, but he will make his MMA debut against van Roosmalen.
Van Roosmalen is an accomplished kickboxer who rose to prominence by capturing the lightweight and featherweight titles during his six-year, 20-fight showing for GLORY Kickboxing. Now, at age 30 and having not participated in a MMA-sanctioned event since 2017 at Final Fight Championship 28, he’ll continue his young MMA career in which he has won all two of his bouts by knockout. Initially training under the supervision of Sanford MMA (formerly known as Hard Knocks 365) head coach Henri Hooft, van Roosmalen finds himself today as the beneficiary of training with former Bellator heavyweight Sergei Kharitonov at the Golden Glory gym in Thailand.
Van Roosmalen’s kickboxing base has served him well so far and came in handy in his 2016 MMA debut against Theo Michailidis, whose head he sent to the canvas with knockout blows at FFC 22, and in retiring Risto Dimitrov with debilitating leg kicks at FFC 28 in 2017. If van Roosmalen utilizes the skills he obtained as a black belt in judo against Trujillo, then it could spell a third career victory for him.
Which fight is the sleeper match-up on this card?
If Super Bowl XLVII in 2013 can be reflected on as the “Har-bowl” due to the coaching showdown of the two brothers, then Bellator Euro Series 9 should be called the “Kavanagh Frenzy,” because there are five SBG Ireland fighters on this 14-bout card. Among them is Asaël Adjoudj, whose fight against Nathan Jessimer is this lineup’s sleeper.
After his one and only professional fight early this year at Bellator 240 ended in a split-decision loss to fellow newcomer Constantin Blanita, the sky’s the limit for Adjoudj. He was simply outhussled by Blanita, who executed his game plan to perfection by constantly stepping on the gas pedal and relentlessly pursuing takedown after takedown. While they were met with resistance in the first two rounds, these takedown attempts added up and wore out Adjoudj by the third round.
Despite these struggles, it was a joy to watch the 21-year-old French fighter excel with his footwork. It was almost as if Floyd Mayweather Jr., the master of hitting while not getting hit, was out there.
Saturday will mark Jessimer’s third professional fight. In the wake of his submission loss against Thomas Hepburn in his first fight as a pro at Scottish promotion Forza Fighting Championship’s Forza 7 event in 2019, he was seeking for and found the leveled ground when he beat Andy Nunn in the first round five months later at MMA Total Combat 77.
Main Card (Bellator app, 5 p.m. ET)
BW: James Gallagher vs. Cal Ellenor
MW: Charlie Ward vs. Andy Manzolo
Preliminary Card (Bellator app, 12:45 p.m. ET)
LHW: Karl Albrektsson vs. David Trallero
Women’s FW: Sinead Kavanagh vs. Katharina Lehner
LHW: Alessio Sakara vs. Darwin Rodriguez
LW: Chris Bungard vs. Aymard Guih
WW: Carlo Pedersoli Jr. vs. Acoidan Duque
LW: Robin van Roosmalen vs. Nauzet Trujillo
HW: Gokhan Saricam vs. Joffie Houlton
FW: Ashleigh Grimshaw vs. Andrew Fisher
LW: Kane Mousah vs. Alessandro Botti
FW: Asaël Adjoudj vs. Nathan Jessimer
WW: Marek Jakimowicz vs. Curtis Dodge
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