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There's Plenty Of Reasons To Be Excited For Tonight's Bellator/Bamma Card In Dublin

There's Plenty Of Reasons To Be Excited For Tonight's Bellator/Bamma Card In Dublin
By Darren Holland
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Later this evening mixed martial fans from throughout the country will descend up Dublin's North Wall Quay in anticipation for arguably the most exciting card to be held on Irish soil in some time.

We list four reasons as to why this evening's card is something to be very excited about.

1) It represents a turning point Irish MMA

For the casual fan, it may not be blatantly obvious but today, December 16th, could see something special brewing on the Irish MMA scene.

Bellator is a brand reborn since Scott Coker succeeded founder, Bjorn Rebney in 2014. To date, they have capitalised upon the UFC's shortcomings. When the UFC burdened the Reebok sponsorship deal on its fighters, it must have brought a smile to the faces of those at Bellator's headquarters in California. Since then they have acquired the services of Phil Davis, Rory Macdonald, Benson Henderson and Matt Mitrione to name but a few. While there is every chance Ireland's own Joseph Duffy will make the move after stating he will test free agency.

Such is their opportunistic nature, Bellator look to build upon a European market which has been relatively untapped. To say the UFC neglected it may be harsh considering the organisation hosted six events on the continent but entering into the IMG-WME era, there is a feeling that aforementioned figure will lessen in years to come.

While Bellator are under no illusions about their position as the secondary brand in North America, they may be capable of forcing their way into areas which would be otherwise starved of premier MMA events - Budapest, Florence, Tel Aviv and Turin for example.

It may not be seismic but there is definitely a change occurring in MMA and tonight's card in Dublin - if successful - may be the turning point.


2) Bellator's partnership with Bamma

This collaboration between the two organisations can only be viewed as a positive for the sport. Having recognised the quite obvious fact that Irish talent is few and far between on the Bellator roster, they decided to co-host the event with Bamma, who've them in abundance.

For those in attendance at UFC Belfast, the lack of homegrown talent on display definitely took away from the card. While the Irish fanbase were still vocal it was in stark contrast to the Dublin crowd singing along to 'Zombie' as Aisling Daly made her way to the octagon. Hair-raising to this day.

It's beneficial for both Bellator and Bamma moving forward. For the American organisation, it gives them an opportunity to attract some of the finest emerging talent from Europe as the partnership may serve as a stepping stone for those wanting to make the move up in competition. For Bamma, it allows them the opportunity to put their name alongside one of the biggest MMA organisations in the world.


3) A host of exciting Irish fighters are on the card

SBG's James Gallagher has only recently turned 20 years old but very much finds himself in the spotlight. Essentially, the event is being built around him as Bellator flew him to London for his own media day and have him firmly placed in the centre of the promotion poster. On Friday night, he will have every opportunity to extend his record to five straight wins when he faces Anthony Taylor (1-1).


Brian Moore (9-4) and Sinead Kavanagh (3-0) both train under the guidance of John Kavanagh as they aim to make it a clean sweep on the Bellator card for the famous Dublin gym.

As for Bamma, just one fight on the preliminary card does not feature an Irish athlete, while Dylan 'The Nuke' Tuke should serve as one of the highlights of the evening as he competes against Cameron Else (3-3) who is the only person to defeat Paddy Pimblett to date.


In Bamma's main event of the evening, Alan Philpott (16-8), aims to upset the odds as he pits himself against arguably the most exciting prospect in European mixed martial arts, Tom Duquesnoy (13-1). It's a monumental task but not impossible as the Ballymena fighter aims to build upon his victory over Aaron Blackwell in September.

4) 'King Mo' and the 'Fire Kid' 

Muhammed 'King Mo' Lawal (19-5) is potentially the biggest name to compete for Bellator, having been with the organisation for almost four years now. The former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion headlines the entire night and rightfully so. Oozing with charisma and natural ability, 'King Mo' is recognisable to even the most casual of viewers. He will be opposite to another veteran of the game when he enters the cage on the night, Satoshi Ishii (14-6-1) in a match up that is unlikely to go to the judges scorecards.



Tom 'Fire Kid' Duquesnoy will saunter through the 3Arena with a belt slung over each shoulder. The current featherweight and bantamweight champion puts the latter on the line this evening against Alan Philpott in what he believes is his toughest test to date. The Frenchman trains at the highly regarded Jackson-Winkeljohn gym, where he surrounds himself with some of the best in the sport, including Jon Jones, Holly Holm, Donald Cerrone and Carlos Condit.

This may very well prove to be the final time that Duquesnoy competes under the Bamma banner before making the step up in competition, so fans in attendance can count themselves very fortunate.



Fights on the night:

Bellator 169

Muhammed ‘King Mo’ Lawal vs. Satoshi Ishii
James Gallagher vs. Anthony Taylor
Daniel Weichel vs. Brian Moore
Sinead Kavanagh vs. Elina Kallionidou
Dylan Tuke vs. Cameron Else

Bamma 27


Tom Duquesnoy vs. Alan Philpott
Rhys McKee vs. Jai Herbert
Nathan Jones vs. Walter Gahadza
Terry Brazier vs. Niklas Holtze
Kiefer Crosbie vs. Conor Riordan
Blaine O’Driscoll vs. Neil Ward
Ian Cleary vs. Andy Lofthouse
Keith McCabe vs. Richard Kiely

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