First loss ‘put me into the stratosphere’

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Bellator bantamweight James Gallagher will enter his next fight off the first loss of his career. Even so, his confidence remains through the roof.

Err “the stratosphere.”

Gallagher suffered the first loss of his career in August at Bellator 204, where he was knocked out by Ricky Bandejas. In an interview Tuesday with MMA NYTT, Gallagher (7-1 MMA, 4-1 BMMA) said he asked for a rematch with Bandejas but was turned down.

Bandejas instead opted for a Bellator 214 fight with Juan Archuleta. Gallagher, meanwhile, will headline Bellator 217 opposite Steven Graham on Feb. 23 in his hometown of Dublin.

Make no mistake, though: Gallagher wanted his shot at immediate redemption.

“I asked for the rematch straight out because I’ve got nothing to lose. Why the (expletive) wouldn’t I fight him again?” Gallagher said. “I want that, and he’s the one with something to lose. He didn’t accept, though, and I’ve seen that he’s turned down fights the other day with some other guy for a title contender shot.

“But that’s that. He doesn’t seem to want to be anything to do with the top tier of the division, not when you’re turning down fights like that.”

And so, Gallagher will move on. But before he does, the brash 22-year-old SBG Ireland fighter wants to be clear that he’s heading into Bellator 217 with lessons learned from his first loss.

“It didn’t set me back at all,” Gallagher said. “It put me into the stratosphere and took me forward. It took me back for a few days, and I was drowning my sorrows and sobbing on the floor for a few hours like it was the most devastating thing ever. But when I sit and look back at it, I think it’s just put me into the stratosphere, and it’s taught me a lot.

“I will die trying to become a world champion and not many people can honestly say that. That’s just me, though, and a loss isn’t going to stop me. I was bruised not broken.”

For more on Bellator 217, visit the MMA Rumors section of the site.



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