Things between bantamweight grapplers, James ‘The Strabanimal’ Gallagher, and Cal ‘The Sunderland Strangler’ Ellenor have certainly reached boiling-point over the course of last week. The once cordial submission-specialists have engaged in a war of words on social media recently – with injuries from both parties been called into question.
The two are scheduled to meet for the third time this May in the headlining slot of Bellator London – having failed to make the walk twice before. A mishap with a medical check forced Ellenor from a September meeting in Dublin last year – while Gallagher was forced to withdraw from Bellator Dublin last month due to a back injury.
Speaking with Fightbook MMA at Fightcon in Cork over the last weekend – Gallagher touched on his developing rivalry with Ellenor and dismissed claims he had faked a back injury ahead of the 3Arena meeting.
“It stems from him (Cal Ellenor) coming and saying I had a fake injury,” Gallagher said. “I’m fighting for ten years – I’m fighting more than that. I grew up in Strabane in County Tyrone. I’m fighting since I could walk out my front door as a kid. Don’t disrespect me as a martial artist like that and say I’ve a fake injury and I’m scared to fight. I walked out at Madison Square Garden at nineteen years old in front of 20,000 people and beat my idol’s big brother (Chinzo Machida). I’m not scared of a fight – I love fighting. I thrive off that – I love confrontation, it calms me, it makes me feel like me.“
Gallagher also spoke on Ellenor’s medical mishap ahead of their scheduled September showdown – before outlining how he plans a brutal finish of the Sunderland native.
“So, he disrespected me by saying I’ve a fake injury. I’m like, ‘Don’t dare do this – don’t dare say that’. The first time he pulled-out was because he f**ked up and was stupid and didn’t get the right medicals. I’ve legit medicals I went out and spent three and a half thousand to get the scans on my back to try and make it to the fight. Don’t dare disrespect the work I’ve put in. I got injured in January – I tried to get there for weeks and weeks, I tried my best to fight. The medical team wouldn’t let me do it. You get a terrible back and it’s only going to get worse, I’m only twenty-three and I’ve another ten years in this game. Once he came out and said that, now it’s real. I’m coming to cave his head in.”