The scene is set for the much-touted showdown between two of Bellator’s brightest young talents.
A.J. McKee moved to 10-0 in his young professional career with a third round submission of SBG’s Brian Moore inside the 3 Arena in Dublin, Ireland. However, McKee was forced to dig deep to pull out the victory after a very close first round and a second in which he felt the brunt of the Irishman’s aggressive go-forward attacks.
James Gallagher, who was originally slated to face Jeremiah Labiano in the main event before succumbing to a knee injury, was a very interested observer at cageside and saw his teammate in John Kavanagh’s Dublin gym test McKee in a manner in which he has seldom faced inside the Bellator cage. Moore was particularly successful in the second, bloodying up McKee with a series of straight punches, more than one of which staggered the Body Shop product.
McKee kept his professional record unblemished early in the third, knocking Moore off-balance with a jab and seizing the back before coaxing a tap to a rear-naked choke.
A match-up between McKee and Gallagher seems a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’, with McKee stating he would face the ‘Strabanimal’ in Ireland.
In the co-main event, Sinead Kavanagh moved to 5-2 after blitzing opponent Maria Casanova to a TKO finish 35 seconds into the first frame. The Dubliner, another member of the SBG camp, is highly thought of in the Bellator ranks and this performance will likely guarantee the Dubliner a high profile slot on whatever card she appears on next.
Kevin ‘Baby Slice’ Ferguson Jr. continued his family legacy under the Bellator banner, handing Fred Freeman his first professional loss with a rear naked choke in the first. Afterwards, Ferguson expressed an interest in facing Kiefer Crosbie, another member of the SBG family, on the undercard of the inevitable Gallagher vs. McKee bout.
Before all of that, Charlie Ward got back in the win column after a less-than-successful vaunt in the UFC. Ward, a teammate and close friend of Conor McGregor, landed a one punch left hook knockout of opponent John Redmond in the dying seconds of the first round. The win prompted chaos at cageside, as McGregor jumped into the Bellator to congratulate Ward. However, after referee Marc Goddard attempted to restrain McGregor, the UFC lightweight champion pushed the official away and both corners flooded the cage.
In the first bout of the evening, UFC veteran Paul Redmond outclassed Sergio de Jesus Santos, winning a decision by 29-27 on all three judges scorecards. Redmond’s aggression and cage control was the story of the fight, forcing his opponent to fight on the back foot to combat Redmond’s walk-forward style.
This was Redmond’s second win in the space of a matter of weeks, after a split decision win against Lukasz Chlewicki at KSW’s recent show in the same arena in Dublin.