James Gallagher wants Darrion Caldwell to return to the bantamweight ranks to defend his title following the Irishman’s bantamweight title eliminator bout with Ricky Bandejas at Bellator 204.
Gallagher revealed that a win over newcomer Bandejas would set up a title shot in Ireland on a recent episode of Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show.
Darrion Caldwell returns to featherweight for the first time since 2014 on the same night Gallagher meets Bandejas, and “The Strabanimal” has urged the bantamweight champion to return to defend his title following his title eliminator clash.
“[Caldwell] either feels like he’s cleared out bantamweight, or he’s a p*ssy,” Gallagher told MMA Fighting. “The thing is, I want him to come back; I want to fight him for that belt. I really don’t know if featherweight is a permanent move, but it will be interesting to see if he comes back.
“If he’s got a set of balls, he’ll come back and defend the title, but if he bounces it means he’s a complete p*ssy. I could never respect that. Maybe if he was getting an immediate title shot in a higher weight category I’d understand, but that’s not the case — he has no excuse to drop that belt. As I said before, if he has a set of balls he’ll come down, take his defeat and then he can do what he wants.”
Gallagher believes that a win in South Dakota will set up a title shot in his backyard, but former CFFC champ Bandejas also feels he can slingshot his way to a title with a win over the Irishman.
Bandejas think he’s the toughest opponent the SBG prospect has met to date, but Gallagher scoffed at the newcomer’s sentiments.
“They’re all tough, but how can he be the toughest fight of my life when I know I’m going to go in there and smoke him in one round? He’s got big ambitions, fair play to him,” he said.
“Who the f*ck is Ricky? Let’s be honest here, he’s just another name for me to run through and then I’m going to go and get that belt. He’s just doing me a favor. That being said, I’m definitely looking past him, but from the way I’m looking in training, I’m going to breeze through him.”
Having been in the spotlight from a young age in Ireland, Gallagher doesn’t feel any additional pressure ahead of the title eliminator bout with a hometown championship clash at stake.
“People have been calling me the next superstar since I’m 15 years old, maybe even younger and that’s a heavy thing to carry for any kid. That’s a big thing to be labeled as and to this day people have very high expectations for me. The vast majority of people crumble under that kind of pressure but over the years I’ve learned how to deal with it.
“I know I can fulfill the expectation; I know I can be that superstar because I show up every day. Once you learn to live with peoples’ expectations it’s not a big deal anymore. Other people put too much emphasis on it, but I don’t.
“Honestly, I cannot wait to get back in there and fight. When I was sitting out injured and I couldn’t get up off the couch, that’s when I get anxious. For me to be fighting in a title eliminator fight that can set up a championship date in Ireland, all I’ll feel is happiness once I get in there.”