Bellator bantamweight star James Gallagher revealed the UFC was interested in signing him in 2018.
Gallagher — who trains out of SBG Ireland along with Conor McGregor and Artem Lobov among others — is one of the leading stars for the Santa Monica-based promotion.
However, he suffered a major setback when he was knocked out by Ricky Bandejas in their Bellator 204 meeting back in August 2018. To make matters worse, “The Strabanimal” was talking trash to Bandejas before the fight which contributed to his first-ever professional defeat going viral.
That didn’t affect his stock for the UFC, however. According to Gallagher, they showed an interest in signing him after the Bandejas loss.
“They came in after the Ricky fight and were like, ‘We’re going to make you a big star,’” Gallagher told MMA Fighting’s Eurobash podcast. “I just got a voice note sent to me by my management; it was from the matchmaker for the UFC. He sent it over and it was a big 15-minute voice note.
“It was kind of like, ‘We want to do this,’ and, ‘We can see the potential,’ and they’re going to do this and they were going to do that.”
However, Bellator later put an offer on the table that was too good to turn down.
“Then, the contract Bellator offered me after the Steven Graham fight, it was the main event in Dublin, after that I was sorted,” Gallagher said. “Well, I wasn’t sorted, but there wasn’t any other way that I was going. The contract wasn’t even up and they put this on the table, like, ‘Do you want that?’ and I was like, ‘F*cking right I do.’ No one was offering any better than that and I don’t think anyone will for a while.”
Gallagher believes he made the right call, especially as it would have been tempting to join the UFC after a defeat.
“F*ckin’ right I am,” Gallagher added. “It’s a times like this that you’ve got to be smart with your career. People probably would’ve jumped at that coming off a loss. Doubting themselves, not believing themselves and then UFC [comes in], just because it’s a big name, they’d jump on it.
“I was at rock bottom there, but I still had that vision in my head. I know what was what. I knew what I was capable of, and I knew where I was able to go, I knew I had star power. That’s what you have to keep always in your head. See your vision and don’t get complacent. When you’re feeling good, but also don’t get complacent when you’re feeling down. Don’t doubt yourself in bad times and just see it for how it is. I feel I’ve been very good at that.”
“I haven’t fought since September, and I’m still able to do all of this sh*t. I’m still content and I’m still happy and I’m still getting on with it and being looked after. I’m all good. I’ve got no stress or worries apart from getting my body in shape and getting ready to go again.”
Since the Bandejas loss, Gallagher has won three in a row, with his most recent outing being a submission win over Roman Salazar at Bellator 227.
What do you make of Gallagher’s revelation?