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Leandro Higo plans on calling out ‘over-hyped’ James Gallagher after Bellator 249 win

Leandro Higo returns to action to take on Ricky Bandejas at Thursday night’s Bellator 249 in Uncasville, Conn.

Leandro Higo wants to secure a date with James Gallagher in the Bellator cage by beating the only man to ever defeat the Irishman in MMA.

Ricky Bandejas, who stopped Gallagher in devastating fashion in August 2018, faces Higo in the main card of Thursday night’s Bellator 249 in Uncasville, Conn. The Brazilian looks to secure his first winning streak since joining Bellator, and he’s confident that a big win over Bandejas will finally convince Bellator president Scott Coker to match him up against “The Strabanimal.”

“Bandejas is the guy that knocked (Gallagher) out, punched him in the mouth and, getting past him, I’ll keep on asking for this fight,” Higo said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “This fight interests me a lot. I’ll ask for him right on the same night I beat Bandejas. James Gallagher just said he’d fight anyone, that he’s ready for the belt, so let’s see if takes this fight. If he’s ready to fight anyone, let’s fight me.”

Gallagher has won four in a row with three first-round submissions since losing to Bandejas in 2018, but Higo believes he’s not as good as advertised.

“He’s a young and promising athlete, but the media is all over him like he’s unbeatable,” Higo said. “Everybody knows he has holes in his game, Bandejas went there and shook him up. I wanted to fight someone with a big name, and he’s a great match for me. It’s a good match-up, two grapplers. He has good grappling, he’s a finisher, and I’d be interested in this fight.”

“There’s a rivalry between the Pitbull Brothers and SBG now, they are going back and forth,” he continued. “We’re ready for them. Patricky (Freire) was going to fight one of them [Peter Queally] that talked a lot, but then he got hurt and disappeared without a trace. Pedro Carvalho is talking a lot now, playing games, but we don’t play games over here, we go to war.

“I want James Gallagher after this. He’s over-hyped, but he’s a good athlete and has a big name that would boost my career. This fight would not go the distance. I’d catch him with my hands or my submissions. But I have to focus on Bandejas first.”

Higo missed weight for Bellator 249 on Wednesday and blamed the excessive traveling from Natal, Brazil, to Uncasville for his issues on the scale. Higo was fined and the bout will proceed as a catchweight. He predicts an exciting battle.

“He’s tough and unorthodox, but I’m ready for it,” Higo said. “I’ve already studied him back when he beat Gallagher because I keep my eyes open for everyone that enters the division. I watched his fight with (Sergio) Pettis and there’s no secret. It’s going to be am interesting fight to watch.

“I’m going there to finish him. I’m motivated, man. I haven’t fought in a long time and that made me even hungrier. I want to impose my game and come out victorious.”