Conor McGregor’s influential mixed martial arts coach John Kavanagh is convinced the projection of Bellator MMA on Sky Sports and Channel 5 is set to mark the start of a new era in the sport. The Irish MMA pathfinder, who masterminded McGregor’s rise to becoming a global crossover star in the sport, believes that Saturday’s event in his hometown of Dublin, which will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK and Ireland, marks a “changing point” in the market. The event will be screened live from 9pm on Sky Sports Action HD.
“Saturday night is a changing point for what it is to be an MMA fighter in Ireland and the UK. Until now if you’re a pro on the local scene, you’re fighting for a couple of hundred euros,” said Kavanagh.
“Now with Bellator and the Sky Sports deal, there’s opportunities for guys to make a living, and not just the top guys.”
Kavanagh added: “The UFC is going to do what the UFC is going to do, think they are more invested in the American and maybe the Chinese market now as of late, and Bellator are more in the European market. My relationship is very strong with Bellator and I’m committed to helping them corner the European market.”
Bellator Dublin, the fight league’s event No 217 – sees James Gallagher face off at bantamweight against Stephen Graham in the main event at the sold out 3Arena. Gallagher is bouncing back, with no little confidence in spite of a stoppage defeat to Ricky Banderas last time out after a lay-off due to a knee surgery.
Even more heat surrounds the contest between Peter Queally and Myles Price. Queally, a training partner of McGregor has insisted his clash with former Straight Blast Gym stablemate Price is deeply personal after his ex-teammate travelled to the USA last year help Khabib Nurmagomedov train to face the Irishman.
Queally’s showdown with Price in the co-main event of Bellator’s return to the Irish capital, perceived as the best ‘All-Ireland’ MMA bout in history and has been lit by huge animosity.
Price is a former teammate of both McGregor and Queally at John Kavanagh’s SBG Ireland gym in the center of Dublin, though his tenure in the world famous facility is now over, in part due to Price’s decision to travel to the United States to train at San Jose’s American Kickboxing Academy, where he spent time helping Khabib Nurmagomedov prepare to face McGregor at UFC 229 back in October.
Talking to RTE, Queally said: “Myles Price, an Irishman who is a former teammate of Conor, spent his own money to travel 5,000 miles to go help his opponent. That’s why this fight is happening. He’s a rat, that’s why this fight is happening.”
Price, meanwhile, told Pete Carroll on the Euro Bash podcast for MMAFighting.com that he is “not fazed in the slightest”. The Irish MMA fans, renowned for their fanatical support of the sport, will be there in force with the 8,000 capacity 3Arena in Dublin sold out.