For the second event in a row a Bellator main event has suffered a late injury. Over the weekend Matt Mitrione had to withdraw from his fight with Fedor on fight day and now today it was reported by Severe MMA that Chris Fields has had to pull out from his scheduled fight with Liam McGeary this Friday night.
Thankfully this has given Bellator adequate time to find a replacement and Vladimir Filipovic will step in to face the former Bellator champ in Belfast.
McGeary vs. Fields was the perfect main event for a Bellator card in Ireland. On one side you had a big Bellator name in Liam McGeary, a man looking to work his way back to the title, a fighter the promotion are invested in. And on the other you have Chris Fields, a popular Irish veteran who is respected and accomplished in the sport.
Bellator had one of their stars headline and the Irish had their guy they could cheer for.
Cage Warriors 47
In June, 2012 probably one of the best cards ever in Ireland took place when Cage Warriors rolled into the Helix with a stacked card featuring the likes of Ais Daly, Neil Seery, Cathal Pendred, Paul Redmond and, most famously, Conor McGregor. That night will go down in history for the sport in Ireland.
For those in attendance though the night ended on a flat note. The crowd had just celebrated Conor McGregor's first title win. Everyone was excited. He scaled the cage, jumped into the crowd to celebrate with his friends. The perfect ending for the night. However, that wasn't the end.
Next up (in the main event) we had a heavyweight contest between DJ Linderman and Mike Hayes, a very solid fight between two proper Americans, a rarity in Ireland. On paper it was a great fight to have cap off a stacked Irish card. But at that stage a large portion of the crowd had left after the McGregor fight and the rest, well, the rest just had an adrenaline dump from the previous 10+ excellent fights.
Hayes and Linderman ended up going the full 25 minutes in a rather dull and uneventful fight. Not the ending that card deserved.
A similar thing happened at Bellator 169 in Dublin this past December. The promotion staged a fight between King Mo and Satoshi Ishii, names I only ever dreamed of competing in Ireland, as the main event for their Ireland debut. But from all accounts the crowd simply were not into it. And just like Cage Warriors 47, this event ended on a flat note.
Bellator are in a unique situation with the Belfast card. The promotion are obviously behind and heavily invested in James Gallagher (5-0). The undefeated SBG prospect already has a big following and, whether you love him or hate him, he has people invested in his fights.
There is an argument that Gallagher should be bumped to the main event. Hailing from Strabane, down the road from Belfast, he practically is a hometown boy on Friday night and therefore will have a big support and interest on the night. Being put in the main event would also raise his profile and stock even more, should he win.
McGeary represents 'right now' for Bellator while Gallagher represents 'tomorrow' for the promotion. It makes more sense for them to have McGeary, who is 34-years-old, take main event billing for the exposure alone. Should he walk away with the win, which is likely, it means McGeary is immediately back in the title picture.
If Bellator bumped Gallagher to the main event then they invite the risk of what a loss would mean for him. It would invite criticism and would take slightly more time for Gallagher rise again. Having him as the main event would be to simply to appease the local Irish crowd who have at this stage already bought tickets to the event.
Then there is the question of whether or not a 20-year-old who is just five fights into his professional career should be a main event in Bellator. No doubt Gallagher would gladly accept that role and no doubt he would run with it and makes the most of it. But could the promotion justify this yet to the broader non-Irish audience....
In the big picture it makes more sense having McGeary vs. Filipovic the main event.
However, for the people in attendance this means we will probably have another repeat of Cage Warriors 47 and Bellator 169 as the crowd will simply not be invested.
Let us know what you think...