Bellator 270: All the world’s a cage for ‘Showstopper’ Queally

Opportunity knocks for Waterford man as he fights for vacant lightweight world title

He was still an amateur Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter when he arrived at White's Hotel in Wexford. It wasn't a large event and not that many people were watching. But as it transpired, there were enough there to mint a name that has stuck with him through the years.

In his previous fights Peter Queally had hurt his opponents with low strikes to the legs. That's what his opponent was expecting in White's. Queally walked out into the centre of the ring and looked down at the canvas as though that was how he was again going to start the bout.

Instead he threw a high kick. It landed and his opponent fell. He was knocked out. The fight lasted three seconds. Peter “Showstopper” Queally was born.

“I like this name,” says Queally, who has come a long way from White’s Hotel. On Friday in Dublin’s 3Arena the former Brickey Rangers GAA player will headline Bellator 270, where he takes on Brazil’s Patricky “Pitbull” Freire for the vacant Bellator lightweight world title.


First things first. There are two Peter Queallys. Both are MMA fighters. Both are Irish and both played GAA before they moved into combat sport. One Queally is 50-years-old and the other is 36-years-old and hoping to follow UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor by becoming the only other Irish MMA World Champion.

If that happens it will be a reunion of sorts. Queally and McGregor go back a long way. They both trained at the Straight Blast Gym (SBG) under the gaze of John Kavanagh. Prior to McGregor's fight last July, where the Dubliner lost to Dustin Poirier when he sustained a serious leg break, Queally spent two months training with him in California.

As he explains it, the SBG back then was no place for anyone who aspired to be average. He once quipped he wasn’t a “member” of the SBG, he was a “survivor”.

“It has changed a little bit since then,” says Queally. “When I said that, I was probably referring to 13 years ago when I first came in. It was a much smaller thing then. MMA wasn’t as popular. John’s membership wasn’t as big then. There were about 80 guys in there, maybe 10 of us were on the pro team and it was a very tough environment.

"We went very hard and we sparred a lot. It was a real baptism of fire being in there. Conor McGregor, Artem Lobov, Cathal Pendred, all the guys that had success were all part of the team in the early days and we all sharpened each other through that method of training.

“Since then we’ve smartened up. It’s a bit more scientific and a lot more thought goes into things. Back then it was pretty hard going. But it stood to me. It stood to all of us.”

Second meeting

McGregor, who remained in the US rehabbing his injury, is expected to attend the fight, the second meeting of the two. When they last met, the contest was more of a striking fight with less grappling. But it was stopped after Freire sustained a large cut at the end of the second round. When they couldn’t stem the bleeding the doctor waved it to an end.

Like many of his friends in Waterford, Queally started by playing GAA as a child. He also played rugby and soccer but his main passion was hurling and football. Through a friend Thomas Kiely, who was a good amateur boxer, he took up boxing, which led to MMA.

Enjoying the training for MMA, Queally was drawn to the personal responsibility an individual sport demanded, that success or failure rested with him and nobody else. For a few years he tried to keep both GAA and MMA going.

“Of course, I couldn’t,” he says. “It was too hard. So I switched to combat sports.”

That was over 13 years ago. The point he has now reached is that the outcome of his world championship fight could change his life. Bellator is a global MMA promotion similar to the UFC. It is based in Hollywood, California and owned by entertainment giant ViacomCBS.

“Once you get to that level where you are world champion, it changes things,” he says. “There are many opportunities, bigger fights can open up. You have more negotiating power with contracts and sponsors.

“It’s not different to any sport where you become famous within your field. Things start to come towards you. It will be massive in terms of career and the money you can make.

“It would be a big deal, amazing for me. To be seen in the same stratosphere as Conor . . . he will be there, he told me he will be there . . . is one of the biggest achievements you can make in this sport.

“You always want to be compared to the best guys in the sport. If I can win the belt that’s what will happen. I’ll be sharing the limelight with these kinds of people and that’s the dream for any fighter.”

Sporting landscape

For title fights in MMA, it is five rounds of five minutes. Non-title fights are usually three rounds. It is the first Bellator event to take place in Dublin since February 2020. A sign of the times, MMA events can safely take place in Dublin while professional boxing has vanished from the sporting landscape.

His fight was originally set to be the co-headliner but was promoted to the main event, when Patricky’s younger brother Patricio vacated the belt to focus on reclaiming the featherweight championship.

“The last fight was developing in to a very good fight. A tough fight,” says Queally. “I’m known for striking and the pressure I put on opponents. This is what people want to see.

“If you want to get popular you have to give the fans what they want. I was conscious of this throughout my career that I would fight this way and give people what they understand and what they want to see.”

He can expect a crowd from Brickey Rangers and members of his family in the 3Arena as he seeks the fourth consecutive knockout of his career. But he won't expect his mother Teresa. He knows that even on the biggest day of his career, she will be doing something else entirely.

“A lot of family will be in the arena. My brothers are inside the railing a metre from the cage. I’ll be able to see them as I’m getting in the ring,” he says.

“There’s a massive crowd from my old GAA club coming up. There’s usually a big contingent, good support from home town Dungarvan. My mum won’t watch my fights though. She won’t even watch my fights on television even though she knows I’ve won.

“She just can’t. She’s not able to. This Friday night when my fight’s on, she will leave the house and go on a walk and be stressed out of her mind.”

There are a lot of mothers who will feel her pain. Not to prolong it, it’s probably too much to expect a repeat of White’s hotel. But Queally is hopeful.

“What I like about MMA is that I get out what I put in,” he says.

He’s put it in. Friday is the chance he’s waited for to get it out.

Bellator MMA 270: Queally vs. Pitbull 2 on Virgin Media Two & Virgin Media Sport from 9pm on Friday 5th November. Tickets via