Skip to content

Canmore MMA fighter flattens opponent, eyes title fight

“I know the job’s not done – I want that belt."
Canmore MMA fighter Charles Gallagher, middle right, with Keith McCabe, Jonathan Lote, and Travis Erlam after his victory at Rumble in the Cage 67 on Saturday (April 20) in Lethbridge. SUBMITTED PHOTO

LETHBRIDGE – Charles Gallagher didn’t just walk through his opponent, he ran over him.

The Canmore mixed martial artist didn’t mess around at Rumble in the Cage 67 (RITC) in Lethbridge, where he won by second round submission in an amateur welterweight (170 pounds) bout.

Gallagher, representing Dark Horse Martial Arts, kicked off the night of fights in Lethbridge and had opponent Ivan Shtepa of Calgary in a world of trouble. From the opening bell, Gallagher was in control of the bout, and almost finished his opponent at the end of the first round when he nearly sunk in a rear naked choke. Shtepa, a late fight replacement, had no answer for Gallagher's fury.

A few minutes later, the local martial artist put a stamp on things when he got Shtepa down to the mat and unloaded some brutal ground and pound punches from back mount before locking in an airtight triangle choke that forced the tap.

Without a scratch on him, Gallagher is aiming to get back into the cage in less than eight weeks and he’s also hoping for a future clash with the RITC amateur welterweight champion.

“I know the job’s not done – I want that belt,” said the 27-year-old scrapper. “I think there’s a lot of work that needs to be done and that’s where my mindset is. Even after the fight, I was grateful I had won, but I think 20 minutes after it was like, ‘OK, on to the next.’”

Gallagher hopes to fight at least four times in 2024, with Artsiom Krukouski, the title-holder in RITC, in his crosshairs. Krukouski (3-1), a 17-year-old ass-kicker, stopped Curtis Busch of Winnipeg at the end of the second round on Saturday.

Gallagher said he didn’t have an exchange of words with Krukouski following the bout, opting to let the two camps enjoy their respective wins.

“[Krukouski] came out, got the job done, and his win was impressive to me,” said Gallagher. “I’ve seen a lot of holes in his game, but you know, as my own biggest critic, I have a lot of holes in my game. I think by the time him and I do face each other, it’s gonna be a beautiful war.”

Saturday’s victory was Gallagher’s first at amateur, improving his record to 1-2.

Gallagher lost by first round knockout last October at RITC 66 to Olson Werenka of Calgary. He said he wasn’t able to warm up properly after the order of the bouts were changed the day of, due to fight cancellations and confusion ensued.

However, despite the setback, he said in the hurt business, you don’t lose, you learn.

“It was the greatest lesson for me … and now I know at least an hour before my fight to get warmed up, and just always be prepared,” said Gallagher.

He added that after his October bout, his mindset for training changed. Gallagher started being goal-oriented at practices, such as fine-tuning details in head movement and footwork, among others.

“I think the reason I’ve grown so quickly in this sport is because I’m able to take a step outside of my own shoes and see where my biggest problems are,” said Gallagher. “At the end of the day, being humble and understanding that you were not the best you could be and there's always room to improve.”

Dark Horse head instructor and jiu-jitsu black belt Travis Erlam was in Gallagher’s corner in Lethbridge. Navigating through October’s loss was a huge hurdle for his pupil, Erlam said, but it was great to see the hard work at the gym pay off.

“Dude has been in the gym every day in preparation, so it was just amazing to have his hand raised,” said Erlam. “Funny how it all came back to jiu-jitsu and his jiu-jitsu was on point on Saturday.”

RITC 67 made history for putting on Canada's first-ever sanctioned bare-knuckle MMA fight in its main event. Lenny Wheeler of Prince Edward Island won by a quick first round KO against Tim Tamaki of Lethbridge in a 155-pound bout.

Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

An award-winning reporter, Jordan Small has covered sports, the arts, and news in the Bow Valley since 2014. Originally from Barrie, Ont., Jordan has lived in Alberta since 2013.
Read more


push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks