That Bellator Dublin crowd was something special, right?
The 3 Arena in Dublin, Ireland had been starved of MMA since March 2020. However, with the Irish government loosening its restrictions around the COVID-19 pandemic, the venue played host to another memorable night of fights on Friday.
The fans were hungry and boy, did they have a feast. Unfortunately for them, it wasn’t quite the fairytale ending they were hoping for.
Peter Queally did not become the first Irish Bellator champion. The Waterford native lost his title fight to Bellator veteran Patricky Pitbull via second-round KO. Queally, who told media before the fight that his plan was to drown Pitbull by utilising his cardio, ended up getting washed away by a tidal wave of punches.
This dampened the mood of the crowd after they ascended so high belting out Zombie by the Cranberries as Queally made his walk to the cage. A lot of fighters crumble under the hostile atmosphere in the 3 Arena, but Pitbull thrived under it, as he told media backstage following the event.
“I enjoyed every minute of the fight,” Pitbull said. “I enjoyed the fans singing Zombie, I like that song too. It’s good energy for me. Nice people, nice place. It’s a little similar to Brazil, but Brazil is bigger. I smiled before the fight started because I loved it.”
“It’s like Brazil, but they’re more polite here. If you go to a soccer game in Brazil, sorry, Brazil is great. But here is beautiful, everybody is cheering today. Congratulations to all the Irish fans.”
While Queally’s walkout was a showstopper as always, it didn’t quite pack the same punch as it usually does. This was undoubtedly due to the crowd’s morale being already low following James Gallagher‘s submission loss to Patchy Mix in the co-main event.
Gallagher started the fight so well. He held his own in the grappling department until the guillotine was locked in to finish the fight in the third round.
After everything was over, Mix admitted that Gallagher’s wrestling was underrated. He also walked back his comments at the Bellator Dublin Media day. It turned out that he was not as prepared for the atmosphere inside the 3 Arena as he thought. Fortunately for the former Bellator bantamweight title challenger, he was prepared enough to overcome the early adversity he experienced in the fight.
“That crowd… it’s crazy out there, man. It was like a movie,” Mix said.
“I’ve fought in front of Madison Square Garden Arena (MSG) and it was absolutely buzzing inside there. But this one was different. The MSG crowd don’t get behind their guys like this. I always want to fight in front of that, to be honest with you. It’s crazy.”
The one bright note for the Irish fans on the Bellator 270 main card was Pedro Carvalho. The Portuguese featherweight who trains out of SBG Ireland walked out wearing a Dublin Gaelic Football Jersey and carrying the Irish and Portuguese flags.
It was far from a comfortable performance from Carvalho though. He was dropped in the opening two stanzas, but he picked himself up, dusted himself off and managed to get a unanimous decision victory over Daniel Weichel, a 54-fight veteran.
Unsurprisingly, Carvalho too admitted that the crowd played a role in his fight. On this occasion though, the crowd managed to will their desired result into existence.
“It’s the most beautiful and special night of my career,” Carvalho said. The crowd was exactly like I thought they would be. They truly helped me. I cannot lie. Part of my win tonight was because of the crowd. They backed me up, gave me strength and energy. They pushed for me so I had to not only push for the win for me, but also for these people.”
As for the prelims, the standout performance from an Irish perspective was Ciaran Clarke. The Drogheda man came back from the brink of defeat to secure a third-round submission in a comeback performance comparable to other great ones that have graced the 3 Arena’s hallowed halls – including Queally’s KO over Ryan Scope and Cathal Pendred’s TKO win over Mike King under the UFC banner. The crowd also really popped for Danni Neilan putting the beatdown on Audrey Kerouche.
The crowd was superb for the event. They absorbed every punch, gritted through every submission, raised their hands with their victories and lifted themselves up in the throes of defeat.
Even though everything didn’t go their way, they can hold their heads high over how they elevated the event. No doubt, the atmosphere they created will encourage more fighters from foreign lands to travel to Irish shores for a scrap.
Although, not everyone will have the mental resilience of Pitbull and Mix to overcome that hostility.